About the writer/illustrator: Dale F. Williams, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, BRS-FD is a Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at Florida Atlantic University, where he serves as Director of the Fluency Clinic. He is also a consultant with Language Learning Intervention and Professional Speech Services, Inc. A board-recognized fluency specialist, Dr. Williams is the Chair of the Specialty Board on Fluency Disorders and coordinator of the Boca Raton chapter of the National Stuttering Association. His 2006 book is entitled Stuttering Recovery: Personal and Empirical Perspectives (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.).
About the co-illustrator: Brennan Williams is a freshman in the International Baccalaureate program at Atlantic High School. Despite the academic rigors of this program, Brennan is likely to start--as a freshman, mind you--for Atlantic's highly regarded tennis team. Fortunately for this year's ISAD conference, he is also good with Photoshop. It is worth noting that Brennan's father is not the type to brag about his kids and thus had nothing to do with this bio. Finally, Brennan needs to get his room cleaned if he seriously expects to have friends over this weekend.

You can post Questions/comments about the following story to the author before October 22, 2008.

The Can't-Be-Seen Who Couldn't Squawk

by Dale Williams and co-illustrated by Dale and Brennan Williams from Florida, USA

The story that follows can also be downloaded as a PowerPoint

Blaze and Mendaloo, they say,
Were married at nineteen
(For that's the proper age to wed
When you're a Can't-Be-Seen).

They settled in a cozy home
Not far from Blaze's brothers.
At first, it was the two of them,
But soon there would be others.

First a daughter joined the clan.
They named her Gwendelene.
She hid and squawked and grew to be
A model Can't-Be-Seen.

A son came next, a handsome lad,
And this one they called Skeet.
The family now had grown to four,
Yet still was not complete.

Another boy was sent their way.
They named this baby Nate.
He also was a splendid one,
Save one peculiar trait.

Like Skeet and sister Gwendel, he
Was pretty as a hawk.
But when he opened up his beak,
Young Nate, he couldn't squawk!

When someone is a Can't-Be-Seen,
He must know how to squawk,
For that is how they get along.
See, that is how they talk.

Nate tried to squawk at Gwendelene
And no one heard a thing.
When he would try with brother Skeet,
It'd sound like "Sq-sq-squing!"

They took Nate to a doctor,
Did Blaze and Mendaloo.
The doctor said, "So he can't squawk.
"There's nothing I can do!

"He'll squawk when he is ready.
"He's not yet half-way grown!
"He's prob'ly under pressure.
"Just leave young Nate alone!"


Alone is how they left him when
Nate tried so hard to squawk.
His family looked away from him
And never did they gawk.

"We'll talk to him about it,"
Blaze said to Mendaloo.
"No!" she cried. "The doctor said
That's what we mustn't do."

Soon Nate began to think about
His family's snubbing way:
"They so dislike my squawk-less voice
"They don't have much to say.

"I've disappointed Mom and Dad,
"And Skeet and Gwendelene.
"Embarrassing is what I am,
"The can't-squawk Can't-Be-Seen."

He'd have to hide this awful thing
That made his squawk sound strange.
He'd have to work out something soon
To make a squawking change.

He'd figure out a way, he thought,
When he was further grown.
But since his family wouldn't help,
He'd figure all alone.

Nate coughed sometimes when he should squawk,
Pretending he was sick.
It worked at times but not for long
(Like ev'ry other trick).

He whispered "squawk" whene'er he could
And other times he'd squeek it.
For anything was better than
Admitting his dark secret.
His best friends Thor and Blaine and Case
And Bren and Bryce and Blair
Were not concerned about Nate's squawk.
In fact, they didn't care.

To them, he was just Nate, and he
Could squawk, squeal, squonk, or squelch.
They wouldn't even worry if
His squawk came out a belch.

In school, there were some Can't-Be-Seens
Who laughed at Nate's poor squawking.
They weren't fooled by his tricks and just
Continued their cruel mocking.

The worst was Rhetter Manding,
A fearsome Can't-Be-Seener,
Who mimicked Nate's worst struggles, and
Then Rhett got even meaner:

"Squaw-squaw-squaw-squawk," he said in jest.
"You'll never get it right!
"Try again," he sneered, "and I
"Will laugh with all my might!"
Young Rhetter had some buddies,
At Nate's troubles they were pleased.
So Nate did not squawk much at school
For fear of being teased.

But squawking is a funny thing,
Nate found in school year two.
The more you try to hide it, see,
The harder it's to do.

So Nate, his problem worsened when
His squawk he would conceal.
With each new trick (and there were lots),
His squawk became less real.
In school when he was called to squawk,
He'd fake misunderstanding.
Then laughter he would hear some more,
The most by Rhetter Manding.

Nate's teachers were confused and mused:
"Is Nate scared or just dumb?"
Either way they didn't like
His answers to be mum.
His friends knew of Nate's struggles and
They offered their advice.
"Just think before you squawk," said Bren.
"Relax," said buddy Bryce.

"Slow down," said Case, "and that will help."
"Just take your time," said Thor.
Their guidance was not helpful 'cause
He'd tried all that before.
There was a brand new teacher when
Nate started school year three.
The teacher said, "A problem squawk?
"There's someone you must see.

"I have a friend who'd listen.
"'Bout squawking he knows all.
"I think that he can help you.
"His name is Mister Paul."
When Nate saw Mister Paul, his squawk
Came out as "sq-sq-squink."
And Mister Paul said, "Int'resting.
"I'll tell you what I think.

"I'll tell you straight, so listen Nate
"And son, please don't be frightened.
"For one day you might squawk just right,
"But then again you mightn't."

For Nate that wasn't good enough.
He wanted it to cease.
His bad squawk had to go away
For him to feel at peace.

So Nate cried out: "I need help now!
"Please tell me what to do!"
Paul told him, "Well, the good news is
"There are some just like you."
"Meet Cayley who's a Can't-Be-Seen
"Who squawks like wild boars.
"And Joan whose squawk is rarely heard.
"It's far, far worse than yours.

"And these are only two can't-squawks.
"There are so many others.
"They're doctors, students, teachers, dads.
"Why, some are even mothers."
And Nate was shocked when looking up
At Cayley, Paul, and Joan.
He realized very suddenly
That he was not alone.

Nate asked them, "What's your secret then?
"How do you get along?
"How are you brave enough to squawk
"When it will sound so wrong?"
"It's hard," said Cayley. "But I know
"Boar squawking is just me.
"You think it's tough, but listen up-
"Just try it, Nate, and see.

"Does everyone do all things well?
"In some things aren't you better?
"Can friend Blaine hide as well as you?
"In school, don't you top Rhetter?"
We all have troubles, Nate now knew.
Of that there's no denying.
But when their problems knock them down,
Some folks, they just keep trying.

So Nate worked up his nerve until
He squawked wrong without hiding.
And it was tough as he had feared;
He was himself still fighting.
But as he tried, and tried some more,
The squawk became less scary.
No tricks to think about at all
Caused Nate to be less wary.

His squawks were odd, he knew that, but
No odder than before.
And squawking now was far more fun
As Nate squawked more and more.
"The squawks don't run my life!" he yelled.
"Of them I'm now the boss.
"My squawking doesn't have to mean
"That I feel at a loss!"

And when Nate didn't hide his squawk,
A funny thing occurred,
As far more often than before
A proper squawk was heard.
No more was Nate ashamed at school
When "squawk" came out like "squink."
The laughing eased as teasers saw
Nate cared not what they think.

And even Rhetter Manding did
Not mock him like before.
The fun was gone from vexing Nate.
Now it was just a bore.
If Nate now claimed a perfect squawk,
You'd have to say he lied.
But squawking poorly's better than
A squawk you try to hide.

Embarrassing? Sure, sometimes, still,
Nate feels a little shame.
But he goes on, won't dwell on that.
He knows he's not to blame.
And if it should still happen that
His feelings get too sore,
He'll turn to Cayley, Joan, or Paul.
And now there are yet more.

For Blaze and mother Mendaloo
Now speak of Nate's strange squawk.
And siblings Skeet and Gwendelene
Are also keen to talk.
Here ends our story of the squawk
Nate's not afraid to show.
For those who hear it now say nil.
That's just the Nate they know.

It is a happy ending, see,
When all is said and done,
'Cause Nate took on his different squawk,
And in the end, he won.
Now when the time to squawk is here,
It is a chance he seizes.
The prize for winning in the end...

Is Nate does as he pleases.

You can post Questions/comments about the above story to the author before October 22, 2008.
submitted: August 6, 2008

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