The original steering committee consisted of Hugo Gregory, Woody Starkweather, Ken St. Louis, Janice Westbrook, and myself. After the inaugural year, Hugo stepped down and Ted Peters became our fifth member. This past year Ken St. Louis and Janice Westbrook's terms expired, and Gene Cooper and Charlie Healey were elected to the committee. This year Woody Starkweather and my terms of office will expire. This is a great time to be thinking of nominations (hopefully your own) for our two 3-year terms. A survey of the membership indicated four key areas the division needed to address: a) advocacy for persons who stutter, b) specialization in fluency and fluency disorders, c) research and training in stuttering, and d) communication to ASHA boards, our colleagues, and the public about stuttering.
In 3 years and on a limited budget, we set up much-needed communication with related professional organizations and self-help groups in the area of stuttering. We will be devoting an entire newsletter to the topic of "Mutual Support and Self-Help Groups" this year. We are examining the possibility of establishing a consumer-related board of advisors for the division. Janice Westbrook and Ted Peters are on the board of directors for the National Stuttering Project. Hugo Gregory was appointed to the ASHA Ad Hoc Committee on Specialty Certification and became a vocal proponent of the need to provide quality services for persons who stutter through better and more thorough preparation of clinicians.
The steering committee also took on the task of developing guidelines for "best practices" in intervention with persons who stutter. We talked, discussed, argued, discussed, thought, discussed, and then wrote the paper that is our draft for "best practices" in stuttering. The amazing thing is that NO such paper existed before this year! Is there a need for Division 4? You better believe it! The draft paper has been circulated to more than 1500 persons for their feedback.
We published three newsletters last year with reports on technology in stuttering treatment, recent research on concomitant problems, a "How I Do It" section for sharing treatment ideas, meetings and seminar notices in stuttering, consumer bookshelf, and highlights of the work of relevant ASHA boards and committees. State representatives have been identified to serve as advocates and gatekeepers for information about stuttering and Division 4.
We are discussing the establishment of a National Conference on Leadership in Fluency and Fluency Disorders. Information about this will be in future newsletters. We would appreciate your input.
We have put on two excellent ASHA presentations about our needs and specialization. The feedback was reported in the April 1993 issue of our newsletter. Specialization will be a continued theme in the division's program at this year's Convention, with more on the "nuts and bolts" of design, implementation, and evaluation.
Division 4 is not a luxury; it is an absolute necessity. There is NO other organized group of people in ASHA devoted specifically to the concerns and treatment for persons who stutter, approximately 3 million persons in this country. Groups like Division 4 will form the core of the answers to the pressing questions in treatment of and care for persons who stutter, as well as training and specialization. Together with consumers, both clinicians and researchers in the division can establish clinical and research networks, and assist in setting policy and in developing the standards for certification of specialists. It is time to support each other in ASHA. It is time to be an active member of Division 4.