Stossel: Thanks, Bobbie, I didn't know all those things.
Moderator: Nonetheless. As we were surprised with those people, a lot of people will be surprised that a veteran TV news correspondent stutters. When and how did this become a problem for you?
Stossel: It was always a problem. As a kid I stuttered and was made fun of. And I didn't intend to go on Television. I just took a job out of college as a researcher in a news room. But then it was a good job. Then they started to ask me to go on the air. And just as James Earl Jones can be fluent when he is playing the part of an actor. Most stutterers can be fluent when they are playing a part. So I didn't have a problem at the beginning. But as I got better at talking on TV, as it became more natural, I almost quit.
Moderator: That is very similar to those who stutter and sing for a living.
Stossel: Right. People who stutter terribly can sing fluently. It's a different kind of use of the voice.
Moderator: Did you find that you were discriminated against or discouraged as a child or as an adult when you went into broadcasting?
Stossel: Well, no. Most stutterers do what I did. Hide it to some degree. To substitute a synonym when we feel a stutter coming on before it happens. I would find something else to say. It came more difficult when there are certain words you can't substitute. Once I was doing the election expenditures and I couldn't say "Dollars." And you can't say "bucks." And I just stuttered away. But by in large people were supportive. I was my harshest (sp?) critic. I would wake up every morning scared about what would happen to me that day. And it was really the fear that made me want to stop TV reporting than my actual experience of stuttering.
Moderator: But you didn't. What drove you on?
Stossel: At the time I was about to quit. I was so miserable that I found a clinic in Roanake, Virginia that I a truly horribly boring treatment which worked for me.
Moderator: Do you think in some ways, which we just heard in the package a few moments ago, that they don't really know why people stutter? There are some theories and there are some hereditory nature to it that we learned. Do you think that going into broadcasting was facing the problem head on or sort of going into that role?
Stossel: I am the type of person who runs into the problem head on. But I don't think so. In my case I just fell into a job that turned out to be a great job. Then I didn't want to give it up.
Moderator: Do you have a history of stuttering in your family? Were you able to pinpoint any reason why you stutter? Stossel: I-It does run in families. I have no one else in my family that I know of who stutters.
Moderator: Is it true that more men than women stutter?
Stossel: Five to one. Basically us men have more childhood problems for some reason.
Moderator: Your feeling is that it is more psychological than physiological.
Stossel: As I understand the theory that it is something physiological. I may have to do the muscles in our middle ear, the way we hear ourselves. But then some people have that and speak fine. Some of us are more uptight about being fluent. And that causes the big stutter.
Moderator: What do we need to learn? How does a person converse with a stutterer? I would imagine the worst thing you can do is finish a sentence, that seems so rude.
Stossel: In general that is a bad idea. But we are all individuals. Some people stutter so badly that they want people to finish sentences for them. But in general it is better to let them talk it out and try not to get freaked out about it.
Moderator: Are there misconceptions that we need to dispel about stutterers?
Stossel: There are all kinds of people who claim to have cures and there is no cure and I still stutter sometimes. And a lot of the treatments don't work. People say take a deep breath. I tried talking with pebbles in my mouth. A psychiatrist practiced hypnotism claimed he could cure me. And there is a guy at NYU who says that "I solved stuttering." Watch out for that stuff.
Moderator: And as children, you need to stress too that the person who stutters is not stupid and they are not retarded.
Stossel: No we are not.
Moderator: Hahaha. That's right. That is someting that children need to know.
Stossel: That's true. There is no difference in IQ.
Moderator: What is the best way to get help? I think it is an embarrassing thing for a lot of people to deal with. So what is the easiest and best way to get help?
Stossel: Speech pathologists are constantly sorting it out. And the stuttering foundation has an 800 number which will put you in touch with someone near you who at least has a good reputation and no treatment cures it. But many of these treatments have helped people a great deal.
Moderator: We can show the phone number. If you are a stutterer and you need a little help it's 1-800-992-9392. And John we appreciate your taking the time to visit with us. We are a great admirer of your work.
Stossel: Thank you, Bobbie.