Comments and

Ed Feuer answers

I am confused by Catherine Otto Montgomery's views in Professional's Corner (Jan./Feb.,1996) concerning my article, In the Year 2025. I described a scenario in which the SLP is part of a treatment team whose composition is based on the needs of the individual adult stuttering client.

Catherine says the future is now in her profession. She states that there have been conferences of clinicians and self help groups and that agreement exists that stuttering as a "problem is one that requires complex, multi-level treatment" But simply acknowledging that doesn't make for a coordinated multidisciplinary approach.

It is not sufficient for SLPs simply to say, "Yes, I use eclectic therapy" because it sounds trendy just as it is not enough to be a tongue jockey focusing only on the behaviors. My point is that stuttering is too big for SLPs alone - that they lack the time and knowledge to deliver all that is needed.

Ironically, Catherine herself admits that when she says experts from outside speech pathology are part of her program. She says: "My clients work directly with a psychotherapist/sports psychologist and an expert in performance, physical training and attitude management." That sounds like a start, and I'd like to hear more about how the collaboration works and what the results of this experience have been. But she fails to give examples of other SLPs using a collaborative multidisciplinary team approach for adult PWS.

I call for an ongoing program whereas Catherine says her clients "are encouraged to stay involved in a variety of learning experiences" after her three week program. Given the nature of stuttering, I think much more is needed.

Ed Feuer is a copy editor and editorial writer at the Winnipeg Sun.

Speaking My Mind
by Sally Butcher

A few weeks ago I went to the gas station to buy a pack of cigarettes. (I know I should quit!)

The attendant has known me for years, we talk every time I'm in there, but this particular day he was a jerk. I was wearing my NSP pin on my jacket as always, and he started reading the pin out loud, stuttering through the whole thing.

I was shocked. Normally I would have stood there and educated him a bit on what stuttering is. But I wasn't in the mood to do that. So I waited till he finished, looked up at him and said, "I've stuttered since I was two years old, and I still don't find it amusing." Then I walked out the door.

I saw him just this past week for the first time since that happened. He walked over to me and handed me a rose and said, "I want you to have a great New Year"

Before I left, I stopped to thank him for the rose and told him that he had made my day. He put his arm around me and said, "I am very sorry for being so insensitive to you the other day."

I said, "You'd think after stuttering for 33 years I would be used to that type of behavior, but I'm not."

I guess it goes to show you that some people make comments without thinking. This guy did not intend to hurt me. He knew he had and it bothered him enough to apologize. I like to talk to people when they are insensitive toward my stuttering. If I don't, then I tend to remember what happened for a long time, and it remains a painful memory.

Sally Butcher has been an NSP member since 1979 and co-leads the west side Cleveland chapter.

Rx for phone phobia: just keep on dialing

by Jim

For many years I had the same fear of the telephone most PWS share. Even though my stuttering was not severe, initiating a conversation or answering the phone was agony. I used to avoid phone calls by writing memos, walking across the building to see someone, etc.

But I couldn't avoid using the phone. For reasons I don't fully understand, I chose occupations where telephone use was mandatory: newspaper reporter, Navy officer, public relations specialist (and for the telephone company, yet!). So I had to use the phone, and endure the inevitable agony, day after day.

I psyched myself up for phone calls. Did relaxation exercises. Taped little speech-cue messages to the phone. Looked in the mirror while talking. You name it, I tried it. No magic took place, but little by little, phone calls got easier as the years went by.

Today the phone is truly a no-problem area for me. I stutter about as frequently (or infrequently) as I do in other situations. I still have bad days, but more often than not I pick up the phone at my desk or in the car without thinking about stuttering. I'm on the phone much of the day and am a voice- mail junkie.

When I'm having a bad day, I often make the first phone call of the day a low-stress call to a friend or close colleague - as a "warm-up" for the cold sales call I may have to make later to expand my public relations consulting practice. And when I wind up talking to someone's voice mail in the course of a sales call, I use a prepared script that allows me to explain in 60 seconds who I am and why they should call me back - without rambling OR stuttering.

Just heard about another neat strategy from NSP member Judy Eckardt. She purposely recorded her voice-mail greeting with a stutter. So when people call, they expect someone who stutters.

The point is, I was able to overcome phone fears - eventually - by setting up challenges for myself, gritting my teeth and just doing it.

Jim McClure heads the NSP Chicago land chapter. He has his own public relations consulting practice and is a retired Naval Reserve captain.