The following extensive bibliography was a hand-out at the NSA Convention in Chicago, June 2000, and is shared by Jill Harrison, MSc., SLP-C who is the Director of the Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology at the Montreal General Hospital.

The Successful Stutterer

by Dr. J. David Williams

A "successful stutterer", as defined here, does not mean "ex-stutterer" who has completely recovered from his stuttering and will never again have any of the speech behaviors nor any of the attitudes and feelings that made up his stuttering problem. It does mean a stutterer who is working his way toward recovery, who is making significant progress, and who continues to do everything he can to maximize that progress. What does he think, and do? In my opinion, the successful stutterer:

1. Has, to whatever degree he finds necessary, learned to modify his everyday speaking behavior in such a way as to minimize the occurrence of stuttering blocks, and/or has learned to modify the manner in which he stutters when blocks do occur. To do either, he has selected from a variety of possible modification techniques one or more that he is willing and able to use in a consistent manner so that he gains a fairly predictable control over his stuttering.

2. Knows that whatever the basic nature of stuttering, the most disruptive aspect of the problem is fear of stuttering and his consequent and generally ineffective efforts to deny, conceal, and avoid its occurrence. Knows that fear disrupts both rational thinking and voluntary control of motor behavior (including speech), and that if, at any given moment, his fear reaches a certain intensity, it is literally impossible for him to successfully carry out any of the voluntary modification techniques he has learned.

3. Has learned to keep his fear of stuttering within manageable limits. Does not give way to blind panic at the approach of a feared speaking situation. Realizes he cannot wish away his old, well-conditioned fear responses, but has learned how to override the fear and go ahead and talk. On the relatively few occasions that his anxiety-tensions do get out of hand in a speaking situation, he does not regard it as a disaster; rather, he chalks it up to experience and tries to keep his feelings under better control next time.

4. Realizes that what he does about his stuttering problem is more important than what he says and thinks about it. Knows that the feelings and behaviors of stuttering are modified and brought under control more by action (voluntary experimenting with and practicing self-changes in real life situations) than by insight (gaining intellectual knowledge of the problem and one's reaction to it), but that action plus insight is best of all.

5. Knows that real and permanent change in feelings and behaviors does not happen easily, quickly, or automatically. The stuttering problem took a long time to develop, and will not vanish overnight. Realizes that improvement will come in direct proportion to amount of active, sustained, daily effort he expends. Knows that many small successes cumulate to produce a more permanent change than does one spectacular event. Is motivated for long range self-monitoring, and is not discouraged by the temporary setbacks, whether internally or externally caused, that inevitably occur. Does not depend on external sources of motivation, but is self-motivated by the feeling of achievement and progress derived from personal effort.

6. Has a basic self-respect, a feeling of self-worth. Does not allow the stuttering problem to overwhelm and destroy him. Has a sense of perspective: tries to keep a realistic view of the ways in which stuttering really is a handicap and more numerous ways in which it is not. Tries to develop and capitalize on all his personal assets. Identifies with people in general, does not fear them --- has more of an "approach" than "avoidance" attitude toward others. Knows that all people have common denominators of fears and insecurities from many causes. Minimizes debilitating self-pity and tries to maximize a positive, outward-looking attitude. Has a positive, non-self-deprecating sense of humor. Enjoys life.

From: Facilitating Fluency. Transfer Strategies for Adult Stuttering Programs, William G Webster. Ph.D., and Marie G. Poulos. B.A. D.S.P.. 1989. ISBN 0-88450-417-4

added September 20, 2000