About the presenter: Dr. Phillip Schneider is an associate professor of the Communication Disorders faculty at Queens College, CUNY and a practicing Speech Language. He received the 2004 National Stuttering Association Speech Pathologist of the Year Award, New York State Speech-Language-Hearing Association Distinguished Clinician Award, the New York City Speech-Language-Hearing Association Professional Achievement Award and the Queens College President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has appeared on ABC, NBC and WORTV talking about stuttering and has presented more than two hundred professional seminars.

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to the author before October 22, 2005.

Transcending Stuttering - The Inside Story

by Phil Schneider
from New York, USA

We are all searching for truth and understanding. The stories of people who have grown up stuttering provide an excellent source of insight, wisdom, perspective, support and optimism. Capturing peoples' stories on film retrospectively and longitudinally allows us to observe how thoughts, feelings and behaviors transform over time. By editing footage of individuals filmed longitudinally over many years we can collapse time. This allows patterns of change to emerge as children appear to transform into adults in just a few minutes.

When I meet a person who stutters for the first time in my practice, I focus on their past and present issues and simultaneously generate mental images of a time in the future when their speaking abilities and their experiences will be changed for the better. This fuels my passion to film, catalog, and edit their never ending stories so I can capture the miracle of human growth and change. I have heard it said that we are not "human beings". We are really "human becomings" who continuously transform ourselves (David Aaron). I am thrilled to observe the process of transformation and want to capture it for the individual and the world. As PWS share their stories they actually self-discover alternative interpretations, attitudes, and behaviors which can help them in the future.

Studying the life stories of people who stutter has taught me that it is never too late to transcend the challenge of stuttering and that often children who are not yet ready for change may become ready in adolescence or adulthood. The road toward change is different for each person regardless of the nature of their fluency difficulty or the approach to treatment. I have been surprised to recognize that frequently what appears broken on the outside of a person can be whole on the inside and what appears whole on the outside may be broken on the inside. However, the most intriguing phenomena which emerges from stories of PWS is that the challenge posed by stuttering often becomes the mechanism which builds courage, compassion, perseverance, optimism, creativity, inner fulfillment and a lifetime mission of helping others.

The film, Transcending Stuttering shares the miracle of change as people travel from the darkness of isolation into the light of connection. Watching these stories unfold nurtures a sense of chronic optimism in clinicians, PSW and others. The seven individuals whose stories are woven together help viewers realize that it is possible to communicate powerfully and beautifully in the presence of stuttering. Viewers come away with images of courage, strength and communicative clarity which will help to dispel negative media stereotypes of PWS. The journey from fear and shame to freedom of speech is inspirational and provokes all of us to develop the courage we need to speak our truth. Listening to people telling their stories on film, takes the viewer beyond words and intellect. The experience opens the heart and connects us to the universal drama of human life. We can feel their pain, frustration and humiliation. We can feel their desire to connect with "true self" and with others.


Transcending Stuttering: The Inside Story is an intimate journey into the lives of seven people who stutter, as they travel from fear and isolation to courage and freedom of speech. The inspiring message sent by the brave individuals featured in this film is that it is never too late to triumph over our own personal challenges. This movie can serve as a therapy tool to open dialogue about the often unspoken aspects of the stuttering syndrome. It is also an innovative teaching resource for educating students, professionals, loved ones and the general public about stuttering.

A preview of the film (quicktime format - 4.6 MB) is freely available HERE

DVD and VHS copies can be obtained from Phil Schneider at phischneid@aol.com.

Lee Reeves, (DVM and Chairman of the Board of Directors at the National Stuttering Association) said after viewing the film, "We can all see a bit of ourselves in the stories whether you stutter or not."

Joseph Donaher, (CCC-SLP, Coordinator of the stuttering program at the Center for Childhood Communication, at the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia) stated: "For people who stutter, the film's message is to persevere and that you are truly not alone in your journey. For parents, the message is to cherish your child's spirit and courage. For speech language pathologists, the message is to accompany your clients on their journey, no matter where the road takes you.

Bob Quesal, (Ph.D., professor of speech-language pathology at Western Illinois University) said: "Transcending Stuttering. .. opens up a lot of opportunities for people who stutter and their SLPs to talk about many of the "under the surface" aspects of the disorder."

You can post Questions/comments about the above paper to the author before October 22, 2005.

August 22, 2005
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