Class Reunions

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Re: class reunion

From: Russ Hicks
Date: 12 Oct 2004
Time: 12:26:40 -0500
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Hi Kristy, Good question. The answer is yes but at the time I didn't consider the therapy (an early form of fluency shaping) beneficial at all. I thought it was all my fault because I couldn't ever make it work for very long. I attended Shady Trails Speech Improvement Camp in Michigan for four summers from 1950 through 1957, ages 10 through 17. They taught me how to drone monotonously and sound like a fluent robot - but that lasted a few weeks after I came home from camp every summer. Bad as the speech therapy was, the camp itself was a life changing experience. I could talk about this forever, but because of the camp, I never felt like I was alone in my stuttering. I always knew there were others, but even to this day, I have never met another camper who was with me during those summers. The weakness - in those days - is that no one had ever heard of the iceberg analogy of stuttering. (See my paper on this in last year's ISAD conference at for more details.) We concentrated exclusively on fluency with absolutely no regard for any emotional involvement. We simply didn't realize any of this. The emotional baggage involved with stuttering was below the waterline and no one had the slightest idea it was there. We never understood why that therapy never worked, so that's why I kept going back for more - with the same pitiful results, year after year. <sad face> HOWEVER, the tools I learned at Shady Trails (slow speech, light contact, etc. - the stuff of modern day stuttering modification therapy) came back to me nearly 30 years later when I found the National Stuttering Association. I began to understand the truth about the iceberg and how important it is to address the emotional aspects of stuttering in addition to working on simple fluency. Today I continue to use those tools, not to become fluent (by a long shot!) but to help me work through the blocks that I still have. Fluency is no longer my goal, but it's easy and open communication. I'll never be fluent, but that doesn't bother me in the slightest. I lead a very "fluent lifestyle" and have learned to communicate very effectively despite my stuttering. Good question, Kristy. I hope this helps. Enjoy the conference! Russ

Last changed: 09/12/05