PWS ---> SLP

by Rod Abbott

What do college and stuttering have in common? There are many answers to that question. My answer is more personal in the fact that I'm a stutterer majoring in Speech Pathology. I'm a sophomore at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. I've stuttered all my life and gone through many therapy techniques, none of them being very successful. My life went on and my stuttering is still pretty severe at times. I'm guilty of the usual acts of playing dumb when I know the answer, or avoiding certain words or phrases. But my life is changing.

My transition from high school to college was relatively painless, but making new friends was hard. My social life lacked in many areas though because I'm a very shy person. I took the usual "general" classes my freshman year and survived without being put on academic probation. During that year my speech improved a lot from the therapy I received at the clinic on campus.

This year my transition is a little more complicated. I started my first speech pathology class, an intro class to communication disorders. Last night I began my required reading. The chapter I read was a short description of communication disorders and when I reached the part about stuttering I began to cry. I've read a lot of books and articles about stuttering, but none of it affected me like this did. I was reading about a nine year old girl in speech therapy. It sounded exactly like I was at that age. I spent a lot of time alone in my room. I never spoke up in class, but my writing skills were very good. I had to completely quit reading that section of the chapter and after a box of Kleenex I decided to write this.

My reaction to the reading was meaningless compared to thoughts on my decision to become a speech pathologist. I've always thought that a person who stutters would make a good speech pathologist because they'd know, to some extent, what the client was feeling. I still believe that, but as I was crying I was doubting my career choice. If reading about a case in a book brought me to tears and made me "relive" my disorder of my childhood, how would I be able to be a pathologist with real people? I started to think that maybe the double dose of speech pathology classes and therapy will help me. That's exactly what happened. The more read about the field of Speech Pathology, the more excited I get about it. And the more excited I get about it, the better my speech is becoming. I'm immersing myself in Speech Pathology.

I sat down with my pathologist today and we talked about my transitions. From client to pathologist. From student to teacher. I'm very happy to say my enthusiasm is going to take me a long way. Look out Van Riper and Johnson, here comes Rod Abbott.
added September 15, 1996