HCRI Receives Major Gift for Stuttering Therapy Scholarships

National Business Leader Sander A. Flaum Donates $100,000 to HCRI to Help Individuals Attend Life-Changing Stuttering Therapy

Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI), an international stuttering research and therapy center headquartered in Roanoke, Virginia, received a $100,000 gift from Sander A. Flaum, principal of New York-based Flaum Navigators. Flaum is a sought-after leadership consultant, business speaker, best-selling author, adjunct professor at Fordham University Gabelli School of Business, and host of a weekly radio show.

Sander A. Flaum
Sander A. Flaum

Flaum has been an ardent supporter of HCRI through the years. The institute is a 45-year-old nonprofit organization led by Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D. Webster and his research scientists invented the first science-based, behavioral therapy for stuttering that imparts life-long fluency skills.

Continually enhanced with the latest research and treatment technology, HCRI’s 12-day program delivers among the highest documented fluency outcomes for stuttering therapy.

Flaum’s gift will be used over the next ten years for HCRI stuttering therapy scholarships to help individuals with financial challenges attend the institute’s stuttering treatment program.

“Sander’s support of HCRI through the years, including this latest gift, makes life-changing therapy accessible for those who struggle with stuttering,” Webster said. “His generosity directly impacts lives by enabling individuals to participate in HCRI stuttering therapy and realize their full potential through fluency.”

Flaum has spent his career leading and motivating businesses to excel and is recognized as one of the “100 Most Inspiring People” by PharmaVoice. He travels the country to meet with heads of business, conduct marketing workshops, and speak at conferences and college commencements. Yet, with his impressive public persona, no one would know that Flaum has struggled with stuttering since the age of five. In fact, his stuttering has been among his biggest barriers to overcome in life.

As a child, Flaum’s stuttered speech inhibited his ability to speak freely and express himself. Despite trying traditional speech therapy, as he got older his stuttering became increasingly pervasive, affecting him personally and professionally.

“People thought I was less intelligent or had mental deficiencies because I stuttered,” Flaum said. “There is a tremendous amount of ignorance and misconceptions that surround stuttering.”

While enduring ridicule and often being overlooked because of his stuttering, Flaum continued to push forward to achieve his goals. He was inspired by his encouraging mother who told him that “you have to work harder and smarter” to succeed as a stutterer.

When Flaum was in his early thirties, he heard about the advanced stuttering therapy at HCRI. He enrolled in the treatment program and found the experience to be transforming. Flaum learned new ways to use his speech muscles to control his stuttering and speak fluently at will. After he returned home, Flaum regularly practiced the skills he learned at HCRI to habituate his newly acquired fluency. The ability to speak fluently changed his life and enabled the business executive to realize his career goals.

After his experience with HCRI, Flaum became an advocate for others who stutter and made a commitment to make effective stuttering therapy more accessible. He started the Rose Flaum Foundation, named for his mother, to fund stuttering therapy scholarships to help individuals attend HCRI therapy.

According to Flaum, “Most stutterers go through a lot of adversity. The key is to not let it get to you. Instead, you have to work harder and smarter, as my mother always said. For me, giving my all and HCRI stuttering therapy made the difference.”

Working harder and smarter has become Flaum’s beacon for all aspects of his life. It has served him well and he uses it to inspire others.

About HCRI

HCRI was founded by Ronald L Webster, Ph.D. in 1972 to investigate stuttering through scientific discovery and treatment innovation. Virginia-based HCRI, a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, has become an international leader in stuttering research and the development of scientifically derived therapy approaches.

More than 6,500 people from across the U.S. and 50 countries have come to HCRI for stuttering treatment. Clients come from all walks of life and include teachers, business professionals, athletes, broadcasters, engineers, musicians, students, doctors, military personnel, police officers, actors, a Supreme Court nominee, and even royalty.

HCRI is located at 7851 Enon Drive, Roanoke, Va. 24019. For more information, visit www.stuttering.org or contact HCRI at 855-236-7032.

How You Can Donate

HCRI depends on gifts of all amounts from HCRI alumni and friends to continue operations and make therapy accessible to individuals who stutter. Gifts small and large will make a difference in the nonprofit center’s ability to help those who stutter transform their lives through fluency.  Please donate at stuttering.org/donate.php. All gifts are tax deductible.

HCRI Announces New Staff Clinicians

Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI – www.stuttering.org), a national center for stuttering research and treatment innovation, welcomes two new clinical team members: Amy Finch and Kristin Stanley. Both professionals bring to HCRI excellent behavioral therapy experience and a passion for helping individuals overcome challenges.

Kristin and Amy have just completed HCRI’s rigorous 500-hour training that certifies them to administer the nonprofit center’s advanced stuttering therapy program. Certification is required of all HCRI clinicians to ensure clients benefit from consistent, precise delivery of HCRI therapy and the highest standards of clinical excellence.

As staff clinicians, Kristin and Amy join current clinical team members Holly Humphreys, Candy Smith and Courtney Stackhouse to serve HCRI alumni and new therapy participants.

Meet Amy Finch

Amy FinchAmy Finch came to HCRI after extensive experience serving as a clinician and director of human resources for a private mental health facility in Virginia. She is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University.

Amy was drawn to HCRI because of the dramatic impact that the therapy has on the lives of clients. She says it is so rewarding to see the smiles on clients’ faces when they leave the program speaking fluently.

In her free time, Amy spends time with her husband and son enjoying the array of outdoor activities that the Roanoke Valley offers.

Meet Kristin Stanley

Kristin Stanley

Before joining the HCRI team, Kristin Stanley worked as a psychiatric case manager at Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare. Her experience also includes serving as a social worker for a senior living facility.

Kristin graduated from Johnson University with a bachelor’s degree in counseling. She has a gift for encouraging people to achieve their goals, which she has applied throughout her career.

Kristin says the best part of her job at HCRI is watching the incredible transformation that takes place when clients achieve fluency and gain confidence with their speech. In her spare time, Kristin enjoys traveling and painting.

About HCRI

HCRI was founded by Ronald L Webster, Ph.D. in 1972 to investigate stuttering through scientific discovery and treatment innovation. Virginia-based HCRI, a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, has become an international leader in stuttering research and the development of scientifically derived therapy approaches.

More than 6,500 people from across the U.S. and 50 countries have come to HCRI for stuttering treatment. Clients come from all walks of life and include teachers, business professionals, athletes, broadcasters, engineers, musicians, students, doctors, military personnel, police officers, actors, a Supreme Court nominee, and even royalty.

HCRI is located at 7851 Enon Drive, Roanoke, Va. 24019. For more information, visit www.stuttering.org or contact HCRI at 855-236-7032.

HCRI Stuttering Therapy: A Mother’s Experience

Annette Tepper of Birmingham, Michigan began stuttering when she was six years old. Her speech condition was not pronounced; yet, it inhibited her from speaking up in class and feeling comfortable with herself. She always worried that she would stutter when she spoke.

As she progressed through her education and grew into adulthood, Annette was able to manage her stuttering in most circumstances. Yet, she remained concerned about her speech and how stuttering can hinder an individual’s potential in life – professionally and socially.

mother and sonAnnette went on to marry and have a successful career as an engineer at Ford Motor Company. When she and her husband started their family, Annette watched for signs of stuttering with their two young children. She read that stuttering, in some cases, may have a genetic predisposition.

When her older child, Stephen, reached the age of six, he began to stutter. It was the same age that she started stuttering. Yet, unlike Annette’s mild case of stuttering, Stephen’s condition was severe.

The Teppers enrolled Stephen in speech therapy at school to help treat his stuttering. When that didn’t work, they took their son to private-practice speech therapists in the years that followed.

“There was some improvement with one of the therapists Stephen saw, but the results were not lasting. So Stephen moved forward with his young life, surrounded by accepting friends and supportive teachers,” Annette said. The Teppers continually encouraged their son and did everything possible to build his confidence so his speech would not get in the way of his aspirations.

When he entered his teens, Stephen became more self-conscious about his speech. He was ready to try a new type of therapy offered by Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI). Annette learned about HCRI early in her career when she was investigating therapies for herself. The Virginia-based nonprofit center is recognized for its groundbreaking work in stuttering research and therapy innovation.

HCRI’s stuttering therapy is an intensive, 12-day behavioral program, which is designed for teens and adults who stutter. Invented by HCRI President Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D. and his research team, the therapy teaches individuals who stutter how to control misbehaving muscles that give rise to stuttering. At the same time, they learn new ways to use speech muscles to generate fluent speech at will.

“HCRI stuttering therapy is powerful and practical. Individuals receive one-on-one instruction by specially trained clinicians who guide them through each step of our fluency program.” Webster explained. “Participants also utilize our advanced technology and a proprietary mobile app that make fluency acquisition easier and exacting.”

Stuttering treatment takes place in HCRI’s clinical setting, as well as in real-world environments. When participants return home, they are provided with a comprehensive package of post-therapy support and practice tools to help maintain fluency.

Stephen worked hard throughout his 12-day program and was dedicated to the therapy process. According to Annette, by the end of treatment, Stephen’s speech had transformed from stuttering 90 percent of the time to speaking fluently 90 percent of the time.

When Stephen returned home, he practiced his newfound fluency skills each day. HCRI clinicians emphasize the importance of practice after therapy to habituate speech-muscle movements that generate fluency.

Two years later, as Stephen prepared for college, he asked to return to HCRI for two days to hone his fluency. With ambitions to study for a career in politics and public speaking, he wanted to ensure his speech was perfected for his future.

“As a parent, it feels so good to know Stephen has the tools to manage his stuttering and has achieved a high level of fluency. HCRI was the right decision for Stephen and I highly recommend it,” Annette said.

More than 6,500 people from across the U.S. and 50 countries have come to HCRI for stuttering treatment. Clients include many students like Stephen, as well as individuals from all walks of life, including television journalists, business professionals, teachers, engineers, doctors, military personnel, police officers, actors, a supreme court nominee, and even royalty.

HCRI is located at 7851 Enon Drive in Roanoke, Virginia . For more information, visit www.stuttering.org or contact HCRI at 855-236-7032.

HCRI Stuttering Therapy Transformed Marion Koestenberger’s Life

Marion Koestenberger of Chicago, Illinois has stuttered ever since she can remember. Her inability to speak fluently eroded her confidence and self-perception throughout her school years. She was terrified whenever she was asked to say her name, read out loud, or participate in class.

Her classmates thought she couldn’t read because of her speech. Marion feared they also thought she was “stupid.” In fact, she was an excellent student. She simply had difficulty talking. When Marion was 12 years old, her parents enrolled her in speech therapy offered at a nearby university. It was ineffective.

Marion Koestenberger
Marion Koestenberger

Yet, she pushed forward through high school and graduated with honors before going to college and earning her degree. As Marion grew older, she dealt with her stuttering by substituting words she couldn’t say and by avoiding situations that would highlight her speech challenges. All the while, she continued to feel unsure of herself and limited in life because she couldn’t speak fluently.

Then, Marion heard about Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI – www.stuttering.org) from a friend who saw a story on ABC’s 20/20 about the center’s breakthrough treatment. The television show highlighted how HCRI stuttering therapy helped national broadcaster John Stossel overcome his stuttering, paving the way for a successful television career. Inspired by his story, she contacted HCRI and enrolled in the non-profit institute’s program.

HCRI stuttering therapy was created by stuttering expert and clinical psychologist Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D. It is the first comprehensive, behavioral treatment program for stuttering – and has been continually refined through the years. Dr. Webster’s early research revealed that stuttering is physically derived, which is in sharp contrast to prevailing assumptions that stuttering is emotionally based.

According to Dr. Webster, the repetitions, prolongations and voice blockages that individuals label as stuttering are caused by speech muscles that misbehave. “At HCRI, we applied our findings to develop an innovative, science-based therapy that teaches participants how to replace abnormal muscle contractions that cause stuttering with detailed, new muscle movements that generate fluent speech,” Dr. Webster said.

“Participating in HCRI’s stuttering therapy program was hard work. I learned new ways to use my speech muscles and how to adjust my breathing to produce fluent, spontaneous speech.” Marion explained. “After therapy, I could finally talk. HCRI changed my life.”

Research demonstrates that HCRI stuttering therapy helps 93 percent of participants achieve fluency by the end of their 12-day treatment program. Follow-up studies reveal that 70 to 75 percent maintain fluency for the long term.

Marion’s ability to speak fluently opened new doors for her career and enabled her confidence to soar. To sustain fluent speech, Marion is quick to point out that practice after therapy is key to maintaining speech-muscle memory. “Like the game of golf, you’ve got to be serious about practicing to sustain your skills. Otherwise, your muscles will not do what you need them to do,” she said.

More than a decade after her therapy, Marion returned to HCRI for refreshers to hone her fluency skills. For many, HCRI stuttering therapy is a one-time experience. Others take advantage of HCRI’s post-therapy support and refresher programs to help keep their fluency on track.

Recently, Marion participated in HCRI’s new remote-therapy refresher program after she was asked to represent her division at a corporate event, where she would be speaking with more than a hundred associates. She wanted to ensure her fluency was exacting. From her home, she used FaceTime to receive individualized counsel from one of HCRI’s specially trained clinicians. She also used HCRI’s proprietary therapy software to practice her fluency skills. As a result, Marion was fully prepared and her participation at the event was a success.

“My advice to anyone who stutters is to go to HCRI. If I can do it, you can too. It will transform your life,” she added.

___________________________

About HCRI

HCRI was founded by Ronald L Webster, Ph.D. in 1972 to investigate stuttering through scientific discovery and treatment innovation. Virginia-based HCRI, a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, has become an international leader in stuttering research and the development of scientifically derived therapy approaches.

More than 6,500 people from across the U.S. and 50 countries have come to HCRI for stuttering treatment. Clients come from all walks of life and include teachers, business professionals, athletes, broadcasters, engineers, musicians, students, doctors, military personnel, police officers, actors, a Supreme Court nominee, and even royalty.

HCRI is located at 7851 Enon Drive, Roanoke, Va. 24019. For more information, visit www.stuttering.org or contact HCRI at 855-236-7032.

Chapter 7 Excerpt – From Stuttering to Fluent Speech, 6,300 Cases Later: Unlocking Muscle Mischief

The following continues the series of chapter excerpts from the breakthrough book about stuttering, From Stuttering to Fluent Speech, 6,300 Cases Later: Unlocking Muscle Mischief, written by Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D.

Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D.
Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D.

Dr. Webster is an internationally recognized expert on stuttering. He pioneered the concept of comprehensive behavioral stuttering therapy and has dedicated his career to helping individuals who stutter achieve and sustain the ability to speak fluently. 

He is president of Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI – www.stuttering.org.), a nonprofit center he founded to investigate stuttering and develop treatment innovations. Dr. Webster is also a clinical psychologist and Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.

CHAPTER 7 EXCERPT

Conditions That Generate Fluent Speech in Stuttering

Book about stuttering by Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D.…Whispering is yet another fluency-inducing condition. When a speaker whispers, the vocal folds are held apart and air is passed through the vocal tract, where it becomes turbulent and yields the characteristic sound of this activity. It has been observed that stutterers become fluent while whispering (Bruce and Adams, 1978; Cherry and Sayers, 1956; Commodore and Cooper, 1978; Perkins et al., 1976).

White-noise masking (WNM) has been found to generate fluent speech in stutterers when the signals are presented through headphones at amplitudes in the range of 95 to 98 decibels (dBA). White noise is an audio signal that consists of equal-power, randomly generated acoustic signals from across the frequency spectrum. We hear white noise as the “sh” in “shoe.” The effect of the noise condition is immediate and clearly observable. An audio amplifier can be used to adjust the overall amplitude of the sound as it is presented in a sound field or through headphones.

A number of studies have demonstrated that WNM yields reduced disfluencies in stuttering (Cherry and Sayers, 1956; Maraist and Hutton, 1957; Burke, 1969; Murray, 1969). Additional studies (Sutton and Chase, 1961; Webster and Dorman, 1970) used four different conditions that varied the manner by which WNM was presented: (1) noise onset presented contingent upon initiating phonation; (2) noise offset made contingent upon initiation of phonation; (3) continuous noise; and (4) a no-noise condition. The results were quite striking in as much as each of the three noise conditions produced significantly less stuttering than the no-noise control condition.

I believe that there is an important question that was not resolved by the authors of these experiments…

[end of excerpt from Chapter 7]

For more information about From Stuttering to Fluent Speech, 6,300 Cases Later: Unlocking Muscle Mischief, visit Amazon.comTo learn more about HCRI stuttering therapy, click here: www.stuttering.org.

Chapter 6 Excerpt – From Stuttering to Fluent Speech, 6,300 Cases Later: Unlocking Muscle Mischief

Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D.
Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D.

Stuttering expert and clinical psychologist Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., president of Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI), has written a compelling book about stuttering that dispels the myths that surround the disorder and its treatment. 

In his book, From Stuttering to Fluent Speech, 6,300 Cases Later: Unlocking Muscle Mischief, Dr, Webster provides new insights into stuttering from a scientific perspective. As the chapters unfold, he reveals how his advanced behavioral therapy system has helped thousands acquire the ability to control their stuttering and sustain fluent speech. 

CHAPTER 6 EXCERPT

Biological Foundations of Stuttering

I have come to understand that stuttering, per se, is not the problem; anomalous muscle contractions that yield distorted speech-organ movements represent the crux of the matter.

Chapter 6 quoteDisfluencies and subsequent personal reactions to stuttering are driven by the earlier-appearing disturbed motor events and incorrect vocal-tract shapes. The visibility of disfluencies and the strong personal impact they have upon the individual can serve as persistent forces that divert our attention from more fundamental aspects of the disorder.

Our verbal communication system is a distinctive human feature, uniquely grounded in our anatomy, physiology, and behavior. The pervasive appearance of stuttering in peoples around the globe suggests that this problem was present within our species at least sixty thousand years ago.

Stuttering spread throughout the world as peoples migrated, developed distinctive languages, and experienced changes in their physical features through the forces of evolution. Stuttering has probably ridden along with human evolution because of our species’ specialized biological form and function.

Incidence and Prevalence of Stuttering

The common patterns in the incidence and prevalence of stuttering flow from its biological basis. When we refer to the incidence of stuttering we are calling attention to how many people have stuttered at some point in their lives. Prevalence, however, refers to how many people are stuttering at a particular moment in time. Thus, the incidence of stuttering is approximately 5 percent, with most of the cases reporting that their stuttering occurred during their preschool years (Andrews and Harris, 1964; Manson, 2000).

In the adult population, stuttering has a prevalence of approximately 1 percent, with slight evidence that the actual value may be a bit smaller at about .73 percent (Craig, A., Hancock, Craig. M, and Peters, 2002). An important study of 3,404 school-age children presented data showing a prevalence of 2.43 percent (Proctor, Duff, and Yairi, 2002; Yairi and Ambrose, 2005). There were no differences noted in prevalence across ethnic groups in this same study.

One of the fascinating aspects of stuttering is that…

[end of excerpt from Chapter 6]

From Stuttering to Fluent SpeechFor more information about From Stuttering to Fluent Speech, 6,300 Cases Later: Unlocking Muscle Mischief, visit Amazon.com.

To learn more about HCRI stuttering therapy, click here: www.stuttering.org.

Chapter 4 Excerpt – From Stuttering to Fluent Speech, 6,300 Cases Later: Unlocking Muscle Mischief

The following continues the series of chapter excerpts from the breakthrough book on stuttering, From Stuttering to Fluent Speech, 6,300 Cases Later: Unlocking Muscle Mischief: 6.300 Cases Later, written by Ronald. L. Webster, Ph.D.

An expert on stuttering, Dr. Webster is a clinical psychologist, Professor Emeritus of psychology at Hollins University and President of Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI – www.stuttering.org.). Nonprofit HCRI, founded by Dr. Webster, is a world leader in stuttering research and therapy innovation. More than 6,500 individuals who stutter from 50 countries have come to HCRI for life-changing stuttering treatment.

CHAPTER 4 EXCERPT

The Legacy View of Stuttering

One of the perplexing problems with stuttering is that those who work in this problem area have failed to achieve an effective working definition for it. In fact, a few years ago, a panel of “experts” was charged with the task of evaluating stuttering and developing a solid answer to the question of its definition.

Chapter QuoteThe ironic outcome of the year-long effort and a number of meetings was a report presented at an annual convention of the American Speech Language and Hearing Association in which the experts stated that they were not able to define stuttering. Something is wrong with this outcome.

The paradox is that most people, professionals or not, seem to be able to identify the presence of stuttering. Difficulties arise when attempts are made to sort out the events of stuttering: the repetitions of sounds, syllables, and words; the prolongation of syllable initial sounds; and the blockage of attempts to initiate voicing, the vibration of the vocal folds that represents a component of many, but not all, speech sounds.

It is at this level of sorting out and classifying each disfluency where clinical judgment becomes less reliable: Was that distorted sound a prolongation, or was it an instance of voice blockage? Was it a combination of a repetition and a prolongation, or was it a case of voice blockage associated with a repetition?

The task becomes even more difficult when the observed disfluencies are barely discernable—when they are at the limits of observer detection. Note, however, that the speech events from which stuttering can be inferred are real, have physical features, and can be observed with at least modest reliability. This is not the end point in constructing a more complete definition of the events in the problem of stuttering. It is simply the practical beginning.

… [end of excerpt from Chapter 1]

For more information about From Stuttering to Fluent Speech, 6,300 Cases Later: Unlocking Muscle Mischief, visit Amazon.com. To learn more about HCRI stuttering therapy, click here: www.stuttering.org.

John and Annie Glenn – Reflecting on a Remarkable Couple Who Conquered Amazing Challenges

John and Annie Glenn at an HCRI alumni reunion
John and Annie Glenn attending an HCRI alumni reunion

John and Annie Glenn are beloved national heroes, each in their own right. With John’s recent passing, public interest in the couple’s remarkable lives has continued to grow.

John is recognized as a space pioneer and made history as the first man to orbit Earth. He made history again as the oldest astronaut to complete a space mission when he was 77 years old. In addition to his NASA contributions, John’s impressive military service and leadership as a four-term U.S. senator from Ohio will be long remembered.

For Annie, life was often overshadowed by the daily challenges brought on by her stuttered speech. As a severe stutterer, she was afraid to speak in social settings and meetings, use the phone, hail a taxi, order food in a restaurant, or summon help when needed. While she was able to adapt to get things done, her stutter held her back. John served as a tremendous support system for Annie, helping her navigate through life with her speech disability.

Her severe stutter was not known to many, even considering John’s very public profile. The couple often appeared together and John helped to shelter his wife from speaking opportunities whenever possible.

Then, when she was 53 years old, Annie and John saw television news coverage on NBC Today about the behavioral stuttering therapy developed by Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., president of Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI).

After she and John extensively researched the therapy approach, Annie enrolled in the science-based treatment program at HCRI in Roanoke, Virginia. By the end of her intensive therapy, Annie was able to  speak fluently for the first time in her life. She called John and it stunned him to hear her fluent voice over the phone.

 

HCRI therapy was the beginning of a new chapter in Annie’s life. With her new-found ability to talk at will, Annie seized opportunities to speak out on issues and help others. She became a national advocate for people with speech disabilities and provided hope and inspiration to many.

While John and Annie are known for their many accomplishments, the Glenns are admired for their loving, supportive marriage that is viewed as a role model for couples everywhere.

At HCRI, we continue to mourn John’s passing. He was a dear friend of the Institute and always accompanied Annie when she visited HCRI. John and Annie have helped raise stuttering awareness and the importance of receiving effective treatment. We are deeply grateful for all the couple has accomplished.

Following are links to some articles that have appeared over the years about Annie’s struggles with stuttering and the couple’s remarkable lives.

 

Chapter 3 Excerpt – From Stuttering to Fluent Speech, 6,300 Cases Later: Unlocking Muscle Mischief

From Stuttering to Fluent SpeechThe following is an excerpt from Chapter 3 of the book, From Stuttering to Fluent Speech, 6,300 Cases Later: Unlocking Muscle Mischief.  The book is written by stuttering expert and clinical psychologist Ronald. L. Webster, Ph.D.  Dr. Webster is founder and president of Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI – www.stuttering.org), a nonprofit center dedicated to stuttering research and treatment innovation. The book is available on Amazon.com.  

CHAPTER 3 EXCERPT

Stuttering and the Vortex of Verbal Confusion

I firmly believe that a major problem with stuttering is that “stuttering” is not the problem. People talk about stuttering as if it is a real thing. That is not so. No one sees stuttering. When we notice a person repeating sounds and words, struggling to initiate speech, or blocking in attempts to get his or her words out, we then apply the label “stuttering.” However, we do not witness stuttering. We observe classes of behavioral speech events, and then we add the stuttering label to the situation.

Book Quotes Chapter 3I believe that much of the work that has been done on stuttering also involves major problems with words. I am not referring here to the fact that the stutterer has problems in his or her production of words.

In this case, I mean that the words used to describe and talk about stuttering have contributed to what I perceive to be the persistent ignorance and general lack of therapeutic efficacy that surrounds this disorder. It seems clear to me that difficulties in understanding and successfully treating stuttering have been perpetuated by insufficient rigor in thought about—and poor attention to—how words actually apply to our ideas about events in nature.

In our everyday lives, we often use words loosely. We assume that others know what we mean when we talk to them. We talk about our lives, our problems, our intentions, our likes, and our dislikes, blithely believing that we are being understood. Our politicians blather on and on, using words that seem more like bubbles strung together than substantive thoughts. In fact, on any given day, a politician may cleverly use his or her words with an implied set of meanings and on the next day use the same words to mean something entirely different.

Word meanings can be slippery when used in our daily discourse. One famous politician, when pressed on a point regarding his misbehavior with a White House intern, said, “It all depends on what your meaning of ‘is’ is.” Here he slyly implied that we can assign meanings to words that suit our purposes.

This matter becomes particularly troublesome when we use abstract words and phrases that are not well linked to the physical world. Dictionary definitions of words provide some anchors for meaning by attachment of a word to other clouds of words; however, what we often end up with is a set of abstractions used to identify an initial abstraction.

… [end of excerpt from Chapter 3]

For more information about From Stuttering to Fluent Speech, 6,300 Cases Later: Unlocking Muscle Mischief, visit Amazon.com. To learn more about HCRI stuttering therapy, please click here: www.stuttering.org.

How Gerald R. McDermott Conquered Stuttering with Determination, Innate Gifts and HCRI Therapy

The distinguished career of Gerald R. McDermott, Ph.D. spans many roles, including school principal, college professor, author, and pastor. These pivotal positions involve speaking in front of large groups, as well as talking one-on-one with individuals from all walks of life.

Gerald R. McDermott
Gerald R. McDermott

With his eloquent speech, no one would know Dr. McDermott struggled for years with a stuttering condition that began before he entered kindergarten. Throughout his school years, his unpredictable stutter made classroom participation difficult and embarrassing. He faced ridicule from others because of his speech.

Dr. McDermott, who is now Anglican Chair of Divinity, History and Doctrine at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School, believes that facing the challenges of stuttering when he was young impelled him to push harder and excel more in life.

Like many people who stutter, Dr. McDermott tried different speech therapies during his youth. None of the treatments produced lasting fluency. So, he moved forward with his goals in spite of his speech. He was determined that his stuttering would not hold him back.

When he was a new professor at Roanoke College, a colleague suggested he look into the stuttering therapy program at Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI – www.stuttering.org). “I didn’t realize my stuttering was at a point that someone would mention I needed therapy. I was humiliated and in denial,” Dr. McDermott said.

Nevertheless, he contacted the nonprofit institute, met with HCRI President and Founder Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., and then enrolled in the stuttering therapy program. For three intensive weeks, Dr. McDermott systematically relearned how to use his speech muscles and adjust his breathing. The skills he acquired enabled him to control his stutter and speak fluently for the first time in his life. It was hard work and unlike any other therapy he experienced.

“HCRI stuttering therapy was transforming. The change in my speech from beginning to end was dramatic,” Dr. McDermott noted. “Dr. Webster and his team are among the few experts in the world who know how to appropriately treat stuttering. The therapy strategy is brilliant and it works.”

Dr. Webster, who also is a clinical psychologist and professor emeritus at Hollins University, invented the concept of comprehensive behavioral therapy for stuttering. He and his research team spent years investigating and developing his scientifically based treatment program that makes lasting fluency possible.

“We tested our stuttering treatment approach with thousands who stutter, representing a wide range of stuttering types and severity levels,” Dr. Webster said. “Our data consistently shows 93 percent of participants achieve fluency by the end of treatment and 70 to 75% maintain fluent speech when evaluated one and two years post therapy.”

Through the years, the HCRI team has continually refined the Institute’s stuttering therapy program, now 12 days in length. In addition, they created treatment technologies that make fluency skills easier to learn and maintain. More than 6,500 people who stutter from 50 countries have come to Virginia-based HCRI for stuttering therapy.

Famous Stutterers

According to Dr. McDermott, his struggles with stuttering yielded many life lessons and gifts. “It is easy to feel sorry for yourself when you are living with any type of disability – including stuttering. It can rob you of your joy if you aren’t careful,” he said.

“It is important to focus on the positive, get treatment that works, and consider how coping with stuttering makes you a better person,” he added. “Living with the disorder may drive a person to work harder, listen more, and have greater empathy for people with challenges.”

To provide inspiration to others who stutter, Dr. McDermott recently wrote a book, Famous Stutterers, that showcases 12 famous people who achieved greatness while struggling with their speech impediment.

The individuals profiled experienced anger and frustration like others who stutter. Yet, none let their stuttering prevent them from using their innate talents to make the world a better place. For a video trailer about the book, click here.

 

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About HCRI

HCRI was founded by Ronald L Webster, Ph.D. in 1972 to investigate stuttering through scientific discovery and treatment innovation. Virginia-based HCRI, a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, has become an international leader in stuttering research and the development of scientifically derived therapy approaches.

Clients include broadcaster John Stossel; Annie Glenn, wife of Senator and Astronaut John Glenn; as well as athletes, teachers, engineers, musicians, students, doctors, military personnel, business professionals, police officers, actors, a supreme court nominee, and even royalty.

HCRI is located at 7851 Enon Drive, Roanoke, Va. 24019. For more information, visit www.stuttering.org or contact HCRI at 855-236-7032.