About the presenters: The presenters for this paper consist of Judy Kuster's spring 2006 undergraduate class in fluency and fluency disorders at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Class members were: Stephanie Anderson, Tabitha Bartel, Allison Blondheim, Elizabeth Briggs, Carissa Coons, Rachel Dahl, Laura Johnson, Jada Jokemsen, Amy Kietzer, Scott Musselman, Kristi Proehl, Bryanna Reinsberg, Ashley Schulzetenberg, Clare Thorleifson, Jemi Tollefson, Amy Weiss and Deann Wenner

For this article, you may post comments or questions, or ideas about how this kind of information might be helpful for others who stutter. Please post your ideas before October 22, 2006.

ExtraOrdinary People

by Judy Kuster's undergraduate class in stuttering
from Minnesota, USA

Several years ago, an award-winning movie had the title "Ordinary People." This paper consists of a series of short articles based on individual interviews with several adults who are all "Ordinary People," doing ordinary jobs and leading ordinary lives. They also happen to stutter. They are all also extraordinary in their willingness to develop an email relationship with several undergraduate students in a communication disorders program at Minnesota State University, Mankato, many of whom had never had an opportunity to meet or communicate with a person who stutters.

There are many, many ordinary people who stutter in many, many different important careers who are also people who happen to stutter. The list at the end of the interviews was begun by Lynda Voigt. It provides a glimpse of some "every-day"occupations of people who stutter.

Lars Afeldt - by Kristi Proehl (Word was received that Lars Afeldt, of the Swedish Stuttering Association (SSR), organiser of the last Lida conference, and active participant on various mailing lists, passed away suddenly on July 9, 2006. We are grateful for this last interview with him - Judy Kuster)

Lars Afeldt is from Sweden and is 65 years old. Lars started to notice his fluency differences at age 11. He had difficulties talking at first, but then blocks started to occur later on. He felt pressure when he was forced to read in class. He felt fearful and stressful when talking; therefore he started to struggle on every word.

One moment that Lars will never forget is when he was trying to say his name the first day of school. His nervousness affected how he was going to say it, and he couldn't say his name.

Lars started avoiding situations and talking because it was getting harder for him. Avoiding situations became a communication problem and a social problem. When growing up his family didn't talk about his stuttering because they didn't know a lot about it then. His school therapist didn't help either.

Lars feels that stuttering affected his personality because he had a hard time learning who he really was. His stuttering became better over the years and he now considers himself as a normal speaking person. Lars defines success as not only on the fluency, but with communication and social skills as well. "In relation to the ability to communicate, the fluency is not so important." The advice he gives all of the people who do not stutter is this -- give stutterers a little more time than usual when they are talking, and lastly, think of stutterers like anybody else. You will find all kinds of people.

Anita Blom - by Carissa Coons

Anita's stuttering has changed greatly over the years. She began stuttering at the age of 9 and her life quickly changed. Her parents had a hard time dealing with the fact that one of their children stuttered. They either ignored her or blamed her for it, since they did not know how to handle it. The most hurtful memories Anita has in regards to her stuttering is how ashamed her parents were of her. Anita says, "If parents cannot accept you, how can you accept yourself, especially as a child?"

In school, people were always bullying her and denying her the attention she needed because of her stutter. Due to the lack of support and understanding she changed as a person and completely lost her self-esteem.

Her father got her a job which changed her life. The people she worked with accepted her for who she was. They saw that Anita was an individual and should be treated like anyone else. Their acceptance of her as a person and co-worker instead of a person who stutters made her grow as a person.

At the age of 27 Anita found the world of self help groups where she was able to share her stories with people who understood her. She soon realized that she was not alone. The group that has helped her the most is Stutt-L where she received the unconditional support she needed.

Anita considers her speech a success when she feels she's comfortable with it. It is important that she is able to lead her life the way she wants to and be surrounded by those who accept her! She is still a person who stutters, but she is now in control and stuttering is no longer in the way of anything. In fact, she's working as a teacher today!

Anita offered a good piece of advice for people who stutter: "Instead of focusing on your stuttering as something you are, see stuttering as something you DO! Look at who you are and what you CAN do and what you can give other people. Write down 10 things you are good at. If you cannot find 10 things, ask people around you. Put this list near your bed and look at it before you go to sleep. Add things as often as you can and let this list guide you to focus on you as a person, instead of you as a 'stutterer,' because you are so much more!"

Eric Christensen - by Allison Blondheim

Eric Christensen is an audiologist who works in Minnesota. He described his stuttering as exhibiting standard behaviors such as blocks, both vocal and silent, repetitions, prolongations and secondary features. He says that he also displays secondaries such as muscle tension in his neck, jaw, lips, face and shoulders, tongue and lip protrusion, eye blinking and closing, poor eye contact, breath holding, talking on insufficient air supply and word substitutions. As a child and young adult his stuttering was very physically draining. Over the years the severity of his stuttering has decreased and his secondary features have reduced dramatically, although speaking dysfluently for extended periods of time is still physically draining for him today.

To Eric, stuttering was never a huge issue or discussed much with friends or family. When discussing blocks, Eric stated that fear led to avoidance, hate and stress, which all produced more stuttering. Eric made many decisions in life to avoid embarrassment, and, of course, some had to do with stuttering. He feels he doesn't meet a lot of people because of his speech. He also feels he is not a very outgoing person. This may be due to his stuttering or may not. To put it in his exact, wise words, "We are most certainly more than the sum of our parts, and stuttering is just one part of the puzzle."

Something I learned this semester, through interviewing Eric, being on the Stutt-l listserv and from my class, is the difference in opinions regarding fluency. Eric put it very clearly that although he is a person who stutters, his stuttering does not define who he is. THere will be "good" and "bad" days as far as fluency is concerned. Success is measured by your own expectations.

Moussa Dao - by Amy Kietzer

I have both a physical disability and stuttering. When my stuttering was severe I used to say that if by magic someone promised to eliminate one of my handicaps without a doubt I would choose stuttering. Despite the fact that my physical disability causes difficulties, it was never a source of embarrassment and humiliation for me.

When I was a young child I had no awareness that stuttering was problem for me. My difficulty speaking started in the first year of grammar school (after elementary school). We had to learn a new language -- English. Our English teacher would lead reading sessions where each pupil after reading a short passage of a text would choose someone else to continue. The first time I was chosen, I stuttered a lot. The other pupils were surprised and some laughed. That deeply affected me. From then on during our English class some pupils chose me for reading in order to make the other students laugh. Soon my problems reading in English extended to French. It became more and more difficult to read fluently in French, which I had been able to do in elementary school. Finally my severe stuttering extended into my everyday speech and it was difficult to have a normal conversation.

My father used to try to assure me by saying that over the years my stuttering will disappear. He said he had a friend who was stuttered during his childhood and then when he become adult his stuttering disappeared. Some members of my family thought it was my fault that I stuttered saying that my stuttering was due to imitating my older brother who stuttered. Friends and family used had never heard about any medical treatment or doctor who treated stuttering. Some advised me to use folk methods such as using a shell for drinking water to try to cure my stuttering.

When I was teen I liked history and thought about becoming a journalist, but in my mind jobs in those fields were out of reach for me because I stuttered. From my secondary school through the university, my stuttering worsened. It was sometimes very difficult and painful to talk fluently.

I went to the university to study in the field of pharmacy. I recall one particularly painful time. I had to do an oral report. I prepared by reading my report several times in front of one friend. With the success of my practices I felt confident. The day of my presentation, I had a huge block -- words refused to come out. I didn't understand what happened. My professor who was one of the famous teachers of our medical school got angry. He told me that I took too much time and had only 5 minutes left to finish my report. I was surprised by such a reaction of a person who travelled through the world didn't know what anything about stuttering. I hadn't cried about my stuttering for at least 10 years prior to that day, but I felt so ashamed and guilty that I couldn't keep from crying.

My personal hero is my last boss. He is blind and a member of the world blind Union. His handicap doesn't seem to bother him. He does everything that a "normal" person does. He is a amazing person and a source of inspiration for anybody. I admire people who live life despite their condition or impairment.

I would like to add that my involvement in volunteer work on behalf of people who stutter was a important means who allow me to improve my fluency. Now I am not ashamed to tell that I am a stutterer and the chairman of Burkina Faso stuttering association. I would like to ask people who do not stutter to judge a stutterer on what he can do and not only about his speech. Be patient when they talk with stutterer. Do not show embarrassment or any sign of pity.

Mario D'Hont - by Ashley Schulzetenberg

Mario is 40 years old, a person who stutters, and lives in Belgium. He is currently working as an assistant bookkeeper in a social organization for people who are looking for a job, and need guidance in getting one. He has many interesting hobbies such as chatting, web-designing and playing music (keyboard and electronic organ). Mario is involved in many stuttering activities and has many friends all over the world. He is currently one of the webmasters of www.stotterforum.be

When Mario was younger he says that he was shy and quiet. Although he experienced teasing and some of his friends would defend him, but he remained silent. In class his teachers would skip over him for giving a presentation, or answering a question. Sometimes, Mario knew the answer, but didn't raise his hand because he feared his stuttering. His parents's brought him to many speech-language therapists, but were not really involved much in his therapy. They would ask him to speak slower, take a deep breath and then talk. Sometimes, they finished his sentences for him. When Mario was in high school, he would often make jokes about his stuttering to ease the tension. Then people would laugh, but not to make fun, and they knew it was ok.

The best support Mario receives is talking to his friends online about his stuttering. It helps, knowing that there are other people that have similar experiences and that he is not alone. The most important lesson Mario has learned is that everyone has their own way of how they want to be treated in a tough time (such as blocking). It is up to them to tell their listener how they want you to react, by helping them through their block or letting them do it on their own.

Mario's definition of a hero is, "someone who does something that gives hope to other people." He has many heroes, but one of his favorites is Scatman John (Larkin), who was an American entertainer who stuttered. Scatman John taught Mario that you can reach everything you want with his magical words, "If the Scatman can do it, so can you!"

Gang Wu - by Tabitha Bartel

Gang Wu is from China. His father stutters and he thinks this is why he also stutters. His stuttering was mild up until middle school when stuttering began to have a drastic effect on his academics and social life. He was scared to participate in classes especially to answer the teacher's questions. Also he was nervous about how his classmates would react to his speech. High school was more difficult than middle school because his stuttering grew worse. Mr. Gang served as a leader for some of the class meetings in school and this was an enormous challenge for him. He described his stuttering as fierce and at that time felt that it would be better not to talk at all since at that time he felt that stuttering was a disgrace.

After Mr. Gang graduated his difficulties and obstacles because of his stuttering were not over. Finding a job was an overwhelming challenge. He stayed at home for several months with no work. A friend got him a job in a restaurant as a bus boy. It was hard work for low pay, but he worked there for three years because there was very little pressure for speaking. However, although he tried to ignore the insults, he was not able to escape torment from his coworkers.

One of the main motivating factors for Mr. Gang to seek help for his stuttering was his classmates telling him that he only spoke "half language." As a result of his treatment he went through a period of higher fluency, but following this he regressed to the most dysfluent speech he had ever had in his life. He found it nearly impossible to talk to woman and to maintain relationships because of his stuttering. One woman even told him that he sounded like a fool.

Mr. Gang met a man who was a recovered stutterer. They worked together so he could learn to use a slow rate when speaking, including practicing by writing slowly. His parents were opposed to the slow rate he used because they felt it was too unnatural. Fortunately, he has found friends who do not care that he stutters.

Currently, Mr. Gang describes himself as fluent with a slow rate. He feels this is a victory and now he no longer feels a slave to stuttering.

Gloria Klumb - by Rachel Dahl

In today's world we are surrounded by extraordinary people. Gloria Klumb is a daughter, sister, friend and supporter, a mother of two, a grandmother of four, an extraordinary person, a unique individual, an individual who happens to stutter. As a child, Gloria was taught that it was her fault that she stuttered. Her parents could not figure out why she stuttered; how could she be fluent one minute and not the next? Since she was in therapy, her parents always thought that she could stop if she just practiced what she was taught. Two years ago, she learned from her aunt that her mother blamed her father for her stuttering because he tickled her until she cried.

There are many different theories about the etiology of stuttering. Gloria believes that stuttering has something to do with a person's vocal cords as well as a short in brain waves. At one point Gloria received Botox injections. The shots helped and taught her a different and easier way to stutter. She received the shots for about two years but then stopped due to the expense and because insurance would not cover the cost. She loved the freedom that the shots gave her at the time, but now believes that when it comes to fluency, success is accepting her stutter. There is more freedom in acceptance, which in turn, has lessened her stutter.

Heroes are individuals who have taken risks and/or give inspiration to those around them. Moses and Mary Wood are two of Gloriaís personal heroes. As a person who stutters, she believes that everyone is put on earth for a reason; we all have a mission. We will meet people who will guide us on our mission and who we can learn from, if we just let them teach us. Moses is Gloria's number one hero. Mary Wood is another hero of Gloria's. She is a woman who does workshops at conventions. She taught Gloria to stop blaming and to forgive; just LET GO! Let go and live life for today and that she could not change the past but can only improve for the future.

If there is one piece of advice that Gloria could give to those iwho do not stutter it would be that "It Is Ok To Stutter". Just because she stutters does not mean that she, and other individuals who stutter, cannot excel at other things, or that they cannot hold speaking jobs or talk in front of a group of peers. Each one of us, no matter if we stutter or not, all have our own flaws and it is those flaws that make us unique. No ones speech, even the "fluent", is perfect!

Renae Krul - by Clare Thorleifson

Renee Krul is a successful nurse who has an advanced practice role working with individuals with Spina Bifida. She is a person who has stuttered throughout her entire life.

Stuttering affected Renee in every aspect of her life. Some difficulties she experienced ranged from ordering in a restaurant to limiting her options for communication, such as waiting to discuss things until she could do so in person or in writing rather than over the phone. Many people have commented that they were never aware that she stutters, because the severity varies and her avoidance attempts and inner struggles were not always apparent to others.

Within the last 10 years she has obtained 95% control of her stuttering, while the other 5% dyfluencies will likely always be with her. Renee has found help through peer-support through National Stuttering Association, which was a key turning point for her. She also had unconditional support from her parents, especially her mother.

The moment that Renee realized she had a speech problem happened when she was in third grade and gave her first oral report, about a white gorilla that she had read about in National Geographic. Once she stood up, she wasn't able to speak. Finally the teacher "excused" her and she sat down, suddenly feeling that she was now the strange creature instead of the white gorilla. From then on, her stuttering took on a life of its own, and was no longer in her previous state of self-protected naiveté.

A more positive moment in Renee's life happened in 2004, when she was presenting a very complex and several hours long presentation to a large corporation. Renee hired a high paid coach to help her with public speaking skills. After all of her hard work, the presentation was a success.It was this moment she discovered she was a successful speaker as well as a person who stuttered.

Joseph Lukong - by Deann Wenner

Joseph Lukong, a graduate from the University of Yaounde with a Bachelors degree in Law, is from Cameroon in West Africa where speech services are scarce. As a youngster, Joe grew up in an environment insensitive to the plight of people with handicaps, including stuttering. Traditional therapies never really worked for Joe and he suffered through being teased at school by both his peers and teachers. Joe has always had the full support of his immediate and extended family, however, as a great number of them also stutter. In fact, the Lukong family is participating in research investigating the possibility that stuttering might be an inherited trait.

It was Joe's dream to work in radio but his stutter held him back from pursuing that career. That disappointment, however, has led him to improve the lives of other people who stutter. He is a member of the International Fluency Association (IFA) and one of the founders of the Speak Clear Association of Cameroon (SCAC), which has been made a member of the International Stuttering Association (ISA). Joe speaks at area schools on how to end teasing, is involved with his church and volunteers for Strategic Humanitarian Services (SHUMAS), an organization that aids those in poverty and works to protect the environment. He has written many articles on stuttering that have been published in newspapers and magazines both in and outside of Cameroon. His latest article appeared in the October 2005 issue of the ASHA Leader. He has also made presentations on stuttering during workshops and conferences organized in Cameroon, Britain, USA, Germany, Australia, France and Ireland. But the event that stands out the most happened last October when he organized the African Stuttering Conference. Educating people about stuttering and promoting sensitivity to it has become Joe's life's work.

Jim McClure - by Amy Weiss

Jim McClure is a very accomplished adult. He did not let the onset of stuttering hold him back in his day to day life. He started stuttering as a young child While growing up, it was easy for Jim to hide his stuttering by substituting words and avoiding situations and as years passed, he found himself to be a pretty fluent speaker with occasional blocks.

Jim expanded on his talent and passion for writing to become a journalist in high school and college. With encouragement from his parents to be successful and have a willingness to take risks, Jim now worries less about his speech, takes on every situation that he comes across, rarely avoids words, and places fewer limitations on himself. Because of his positive attitudes, his career encompasses journalism, public relations, and also the Naval Reserve.

Saying what one wants when they want it, not placing limitations on ones' self, being an effective public speaker, using the telephone without worrying about stuttering, using the drive-up window, and telling jokes is how Jim describes the lifestyle of a fluent person. His advice to one who is overcoming stuttering is, "To put it into perspective and refuse to be handicapped by it." Herb Goldberg was one of the first advocates for people who stutter. He brought the Edinburgh Masker to the U.S. and set up a nonprofit foundation to distribute it. Part of Jim's positive attitude comes from Herb, who was Jim's mentor in stuttering self-help. Jim is a great example of a person who has not let stuttering get in the way with accomplishing his goals in life

Louis Roden - by Jada Jokemsen

Louis Roden is a person who has stuttered all his life. He feels that it is a condition he was born with. Louis struggled as a child with poor self-esteem due mainly to the negative effects his educators had on him. It wasn't until his first meeting in 4th grade with a new speech therapist that everything changed. She helped him understand avoidance and substitution, which changed his life drastically. Louis soon found himself seeking out opportunities to speak rather than avoiding them. His new therapist was not the only positive influence on his life. Louis's father has also been a source of inspiration to him. Even though Louis's father became disabled and was unable do activities that most dads do with their sons, his father never "cursed his fate." He considered himself lucky to be alive. To Louis, his father's "demeanor, positive spirit, engaging approach, and warm smile were his giftsŠ" far better than any father/son activity could have been.

One of Louis's main goals in life is to educate others about stuttering in order to erase ignorance and insensitivity. Louis shared some advice to someone who does not stutter that I will carry with me throughout my SLP career with the hope of keeping his message traveling for all the world to hear.

"Tolerance! Understanding! Patience! We are all different. There are a million ways to communicate and only one way is with my voice. Please don't give me advice; don't tell me to 'just slow down' or 'don't be nervous.' Those that are fluent have NO idea what we go through to speak. Having said that, WE need to educate them! Lastly, especially to parents and teachers; the impact stuttering has on a child's self esteem and view of the world is SIGNIFICANT and no, you DON'T understand unless you have been there yourself. Provide love, understanding, other ways and opportunities to communicate, and lots of unconditional love, and those children will grow up proud and ready to face the world."

Cynthia Scace - by Stephanie Anderson

Cynthia Scace has had much experience and insight on stuttering because she has been a person who stutters since the age of three. Her family would try to be supportive, but they never did fully understand the shame she felt about stuttering. Nobody wanted to talk about it and the "experts" told her parents to ignore it and it would go away. It never did.

Following childhood Cynthia has a better quality of stuttering, she stutters less, and her attitude has changed greatly. She is now no longer afraid to stutter and does it openly. Cynthia started a National Stuttering Association support group chapter with one of her personal "heroes," Marty Jezer. Marty showed her that she could be a happy person and stutter freely at the same time.

Cynthia does not know what kind of person she would be if she didn't stutter, but she would like to be fluent for two reasons. She would like to be able to say what she wants, when she wants and she would like to stutter with less effort than it takes her now. She went into the human-service field because she believed people would be more kind to her. She discovered that she was right and loves her work.

Finally, Cynthia shared that some people give rude looks and make rude comments. She would like people to be patient and wait their turn to talk. She would like everyone who doesn't stutter to keep in mind that people who stutter are not any more or any less of a person. They just stutter.

David Shifren - by Elizabeth Briggs

David Shifren, age 25, works in a small law firm in New York City. His stuttering is now mild-to-moderate due to having undergone several years of speech therapy. He used to stutter far more severely and would frequently be unable to finish a sentence. In high school David was captain of his quiz (college bowl) bowl team and stuttered on the last answer in the championship round. His team was almost denied being crowned the champs because of his slight stutter on one word.

His family has been more supportive of his stuttering than his peers have been although people who know him tend to understand and are patient. The only problems arise when he must deal with strangers or people who are disposed to dislike him.

Stuttering has limited some of the choices in David's life to a certain extent. Job interviews tend to cause him to stutter badly most likely because of the stress of unfamiliar people combined with the high stakes involved in interviewing.

In terms of success when it comes to fluency, David said that, "Being able to get out what I need to get out while the audience is still listening (before they've lost interest)," is the most important thing.

One of David's personal heroes is one of his law professors, Bruce Mann, a highly acclaimed law professor -- one of the most popular at Penn, who has won 3 teaching awards. Mann is a respected academician and has a severe stutter.

For people who don't stutter, David recommends not being prejudicial and, even if somewhat more effort and patience is required, hear us out instead of telling us to "calm down."

Andreas Starke - by Scott Musselman

Andreas Starke is a person who stutters. He was born in 1944 and stuttered severely for the first 30 years of his life. His severe stuttering consisted mainly of blocks and loss of breath. For a long time Mr. Starke could hardly speak on a word that started with a vowel. He also had a very hard time producing the /m/, /n/, /l/, /v/ sounds and these are still sometimes difficult to this day. The common pattern that is in all these sounds is the opening of the jaw while maintaining voice. Even when Mr. Starke would open his jaw and only exhale slowly without speaking he would regularly get slight jaw tremors. He believes that reflexes of the speech mechanism, both learned and unlearned, play an important role in the etiology of stuttering.

At the age of 30 Mr. Starke attended his first therapy program. This therapy program was what was called the classic fluency shaping approach. For roughly a year, this approach worked well for Mr. Starke until he found the self-help approach. He became familiar with this approach and in 1977 began using this approach alone. He states that, "Until this time I had believed that fighting against stuttering was a matter of will-power first. From that point on I wanted not to work against stuttering, but work with stuttering." Mr. Starke never did any formal therapy again and began what you can call a "bibliotherapy" which is therapy through books. Now at the age of 62 Mr. Starke does not know if he would call himself a person who stutters anymore. Yes, he does still stutter once in a while, but for the most part he is fluent. Andreas Starke enjoys a rewarding and challenging life inspite of any stuttering.

Ray Tong - by Bryanna Reinsberg

Mao Zedong is the father of the People's Republic of China. He had a dream, and he committed his life's work to achieving that dream. Mao Zedong is Ray Tong's personal hero because he was a great dreamer and doer, and Ray is following in his path. Ray is working to achieve his own dream in creating the Stuttering Foundation of China. The website for the SFC is already online. He has translated the information on the Stuttering Foundation of America's website from English to Chinese.

The SFA provided information for Ray not only in working towards his dream, but also in his life as a person who stutters. He began stuttering around the age of six, but he did not experience any accompanying fear of speaking until junior and senior high school. English lessons were particularly hard for him, classmates laughed at him, his stuttering worsened, and he felt fearful and ashamed. He began to explore information on the Internet after he could read English well. From the SFA website, he learned not to avoid stuttering and to accept himself as a stutterer. He believes that stuttering is part of his soul, that it has made him who he is, and that that is okay. His stuttering has greatly improved. He has gained a sense of personal peace both because and in spite of his stuttering.

Ray Tong is an individual with insights to share and a dream to achieve. He just wants his life to be meaningful. It already is and will continue to be to all who get to know him and his work.

Tony Troiano - by Laura Johnson

Tony Troiano began stuttering at the age of 14. He can still recall his first dysfluency in 1967, which distressed him immensely. He was in denial about it, which made the speech blocks much worse as he tried to hide it. Today he looks at stuttering differently, not seeing it as a stigma that he needs to avoid. He continues to stutter and probably always will, but the hard blocks, embarrassment and fear are gone. When it comes to success in fluency, Tonyís goal is to be an effective communicator.

Tony's mother first took him to a speech therapist in 1968. He had just started to stutter very noticeably and was very depressed and embarrassed by it. His parents and brothers have never mentioned his stuttering at all and treated it like a non-issue. Even though Tony's stuttering was fairly pronounced, his closest friends sometimes told him they never noticed it. He believes this was because they became accustomed to hearing him talk that way.

Tony feels stuttering has affected his choices in life. Because he had such a hard time in school, he promised himself that he would always follow his dream. The dream he followed is in the photographic industry where he put himself in situations that required meeting many people and doing a lot of talking. When he began, the worst part was speaking on the telephone. The sound of the phone ringing was like an alarm going off. His pulse would quicken and he anticipated the dread of picking it up and stuttering.

When he first entered the world of photography, he sought work as a social affairs photographer. In 1976, someone referred him to a local studio as a candid wedding photographer, so he made an appointment to show samples of his work. Today he is self-employed, still in the photographic field as a fine art printer and talks on the phone routinely many times a day without a second thought. As a younger man he never thought it would happen and he takes pride in that accomplishment.

Bernie Weiner - by Jemi Tollefson

"I'm NEVER going to look back and say that I should have tried harder to gain more control over my stuttering. I think I've done the best I can with the hand that was dealt to me." That is what Bernie Weiner says about his stuttering.

Bernie has stuttered since he was 5 years old. He is a former co-chairman of a stuttering support group that is part of the National Stuttering Association. Bernie and his former co-leader, Jim Abbott, have been elected Chapter Leaders Of The Year twice by the National Stuttering Association. He considers himself a moderate to severe stutterer. The main thing that has changed over the years is his attitude towards stuttering. He no longer carries the shame, anger, or fear that comes with stuttering and also no longer fears speaking in front of groups or talking in all situations.

In college Bernie majored in history because he could take classes in huge lecture halls, without having to speak in front of a class. Now he has a job where he has to talk on the phone a lot, teach new hires, and interact with a wide variety of government and military people.

Bernie considers his speaking success by how he gets his point across and if he is able to communicate effectively with his listener. His advice to people who do not stutter is that people who stutter are the same as anybody else, they just have a "unique" way of speaking. He says to try to listen to what people are saying, and not how they are saying it. "Most of us deal with it (stuttering) with dignity, grace, and sometimes a large dose of humor."

Bonnie Weiss - by Amy Kietzer

Bonnie Weiss had been a fairly severe stutterer since she was about 3 years old. It wasn't until she was about 50 years old when she really started to benefit from therapy. She worked as an administrative assistant in the Classics Department at the University at Buffalo in New York and was the only person in the office, so she had to use the phone and talk to people in various situations.

One thing that has helped Bonnie is that she has become more comfortable with herself as a person who stutters and is much more open about it. The ability to be comfortable with her stuttering and have that acceptance is what she feels is success. Another thing that has helped her is that she has become extremely active in the world of stuttering, especially since she retired two years ago.

Bonnie has been very involved in the National Stuttering Association. At one time she served on the Board of Directors of the NSA, chaired the national convention of NSA that was held in Buffalo in 1997, and actually started an NSA chapter. She also does Chapter News for LETTING GO, and serves as the Associate Editor of Stutter Buddies.

Bonnie is a member of Toastmasters and the editor of the Toastmasters' newsletter. Other activities include presenting workshops and participating in guest speaking opportunities. Her former speech-language pathologist, Gary Rentschler, who also happens to be a person who stutters, has helped her along the way and also serves as one of her "heroes". The message that Bonnie has for everyone is that, "stuttering is something we do, not who we are."

Administrative assistant
Air Traffic controller
Bank Examiner
Budget Analyst
Cancer Research Scientist
Captain, US Navy
Certified Public Accountant
Company Owners
Computer Programmer
Corporate Human Resources Manager
Data technician
Database Manager
Electronics Technician
Executive of Large Corporations
Executive Secretary
Expert Witness, Real Estate
Fashion Designer
Financial Planner
Flower shop owner
Graduate dean
Grants and Contract Specialist
Graphic Artist
Heating/Air Conditioning Technician
Insurance salesman
Kindergarten Teacher
Land Title Examiner
Legal Assistant
Lieutenant Colonel, Army
Medical Technologist
Middle School Teacher
Medical Technologist
Middle School Teacher
Motivational Speaker
Newspaper Reporter
Pediatric Neurosurgeon
Police officer
Newspaper Reporter
Pediatric Neurosurgeon
Police officer
Principal Engineer
Public Relations Consultant
Real Estate Appraiser
Registered Nurse, Operating Room
Retail Store Owner
Sales and Marketing
Sergeant First Class, US Army
Service Manager
Social Worker
Software Engineer
Speech Language Pathologist
TV News Reporter
University Professor
US Senator
Vice President of an International Company
Voice (singing) Teacher

For this article, you may post comments or questions, or ideas about how this kind of information might be helpful for others who stutter. Please post your ideas before October 22, 2006.

Date submitted: May 2006

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