The following continues the series of chapter excerpts from this compelling book on stuttering.
CHAPTER 5 EXCERPT
Stuttering and the Arrow of Time
The problem with stuttering is that stuttering is not the problem. This is a paradoxical statement, yet I believe it is accurate. This chapter will expand the definition of what we now refer to as stuttering by showing that additional levels of observation are required in order to better understand the events involved in this problem.
Earlier I made the point that stuttering is inferred when, during speech initiation, particular observed speech events occur. However, as I indicated in the previous chapter, the simple identification of these behaviors and their cognitive/emotional consequences provides an incomplete and not particularly practical view of the problem.
Figure 4.1, in the previous chapter, presents a schematic illustration of the elements that appear in the legacy definition of stuttering. Note that in this model, the behavioral manifestations of disfluent speech are fundamentally important. Their presence gives rise to the accessory behaviors arrayed immediately below the disfluent speech events.
In addition, the disfluent speech activities and the accessory behaviors, together, are seen to generate activity within the cognitive/emotional domain as others react to the speech of the individual involved. In addition, the individual processes his or her experiences and establishes their meaning in his or her own manner. In my opinion, something is missing in this equation.
The legacy model recognizes specific behavioral events that are identified as the elements that permit the inference of stuttering. Note, however, that the behaviors identified in the model are behaviors by type; they are not stuttering. I believe that there is a critical need to sustain our focus on behavioral details because that, frankly, is where the action occurs…
… [end of excerpt from Chapter 5]
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 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.
The science-based stuttering therapy program at Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) focuses explicitly on correcting muscle distortions and teaching new speaking skills that participants utilize to maintain fluency for a lifetime. As a behavioral therapy designed to help people achieve fluency, HCRI’s 12-day program does not include a psychological component.
Yet, those who participate gain self-confidence that comes from using their new skills and speaking fluently at will. For many clients, this newfound confidence is something they never experienced before attending HCRI stuttering therapy.
One such person is 26-year-old Byron Jones. Before Byron attended HCRI’s program, he had difficulty talking in front of strangers and friends alike. He tried a variety of therapies that proved to be unsuccessful. He practiced with numerous fluency teachers over the years and even tried an auditory-feedback device. Any positive results only lasted for a short amount of time. Byron had difficulty keeping the motivation to continue the work he was taught by his therapy providers because he saw no improvement.
The Decision to Try HCRI
When Byron came across HCRI’s website at www.stuttering.org, he was hesitant to believe the Institute’s therapy would work for him. Before he completely gave up hope to ever speak fluently, he decided to consider HCRI. With the help of his mom, he carefully researched the Institute’s work and treatment approach.
He reviewed the information on HCRI’s website and watched pre- and post-therapy videos of past participants. These videos illustrate a typical client’s speech on Day 1 versus Day 12 of the program. The tremendous difference before and after therapy is what drove Byron to submit his application to HCRI’s stuttering therapy program.
Systematic Therapy Approach
He attended HCRI’s therapy program at the end of 2015 with seven other individuals. He spent twelve uninterrupted and challenging days learning techniques to help him control his distorted muscle movements. He received one-on-one instruction and guidance from HCRI’s specially trained clinicians and used the Institute’s proprietary technology during the therapy process.
First, Byron was taught how to control the muscle tension in his articulators, which include the tongue, lips, and jaw. He was then instructed how to focus on his breathing so that he would have a good supply of air for his speech. Having distorted breathing patterns makes it even harder for people with a history of stuttering to get their speech out.
Lastly, he was taught how to monitor and feel his vocal folds and keep them from slamming shut. People who are considered fluent speakers are able to control their muscles naturally, but those who deal with stuttering have to deliberately make their muscle groups cooperate. Byron was taught all of the necessary tasks to problem solve when he was having difficulty, along with how to continue working on his fluency skills for the rest of his life.
Achieving Fluency in 12 Days
Byron began his HCRI program by speaking with a disfluency level of over eight percent. After receiving treatment, his speech had improved to be less than one percent disfluency. Those who are considered to be fluent speakers have up to three percent disfluency.
Byron is pleased with his results and is quick to point out that therapy is not a cure. “The fluency skills I learned are something that I have to continue practicing daily,” he said. “Also, calling my HCRI clinician every one-to-two weeks helps keep me on track. Even a ten minute phone conversation can make a big difference.”
After finishing his HCRI stuttering therapy program, Byron gained significant confidence from having the ability to speak fluently.
With his new speaking abilities, he was ready to take a huge life step with his girlfriend, Betsy.
Putting his Fluency to the Test
“We had been dating for fifteen months and have been friends for five years. We both know what we want in life and the timing was right. When you find someone you love and care for, it’s time to take the next step,” he said.
Christmas of 2016 was quickly approaching and Byron decided the time had come to ask Betsy to marry him. He called and spoke with his HCRI clinician before he was planning to propose to get some practice and tips on how to ask the anticipated question.
After tirelessly practicing what he wanted to say, on December 20, 2016 Byron asked Betsy to marry him. He hired a photographer to capture the special moment when he got down on his knee and confidently asked Betsy to be his wife. Betsy said yes.
“I know that this question is nerve-racking for everyone, especially for people with a history of stuttering. It was comforting to know that I had my fluent speech to make it less stressful,” Byron said. “I just practiced what I wanted to say, and my fiancé told me that I got through what I was saying without stuttering.”
Byron says that Betsy is very supportive of him and his journey to fluent speech. “She loves me the way I am and doesn’t care if I stutter. Yet, she helps me stay on track with my fluency skills because she knows it’s what I want.”
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 come from all walks of life and 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.
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.
I 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.
Many individuals who stutter have participated in a spectrum of speech therapies beginning at a young age. Concerned parents enroll their sons and daughters in traditional speech treatment through schools and/or with private therapists to help stop the stuttering. Treatment typically begins in elementary school and can last through the teen years.
For those who experience persistent stuttering after the age of 12, these well-intentioned efforts show minimal or no lasting fluency results. Compounding the impact of stuttering in daily life, the lack of fluency outcomes from treatment produce increasing frustration, confidence erosion and thinner wallets.
At Hollins Communications Research Institute, we find that the majority of people who contact us share this real-life scenario. As adults, many reach out as a last resort. They are at a tipping point where achieving fluency can change their trajectory in life – whether it be related to their academic achievement, career choice or personal lives.
They are deeply discouraged by their past treatment experiences, as well as the time and money they invested in therapies that didn’t work. When they contact us, these individuals inquire about expected outcomes from HCRI’s 12-day stuttering treatment and ask about the program fee. We welcome these and other questions.
HCRI Treatment Outcomes – What You Can Expect
HCRI stuttering therapy works with a very wide range of stuttering types and severity. After 12 days of systematic and intensive treatment, 93% of participants achieve fluency. When evaluated one and two years post therapy, 70-75% retain the ability to control their stuttering and speak fluently. This means you can expect similar results.
As you consider your therapy options, we encourage you to ask other providers for their statistics on successful treatment outcomes to better understand your probability of positive fluency results.
Science is at the core of the consistent outcomes that HCRI stuttering therapy delivers. Our in-house research scientists pioneered the concept of comprehensive behavioral therapy for stuttering after HCRI investigative work revealed stuttering is a physical phenomenon – and needs to be treated as such. Utilizing data and test results with thousands of stuttering cases, the HCRI team designed a sophisticated, powerful treatment that helps people achieve fluency in 12 days. Our therapy program has been continually enhanced through the years and is now in its fourth generation.
HCRI stuttering treatment teaches participants how to replace faulty speech muscle movements that cause stuttering with new speech muscle behaviors that enable fluency. In addition, we invented new ways to use technology in therapy that facilitate the learning of lasting fluency skills.
HCRI Therapy Cost and Value
The cost of stuttering therapy at HCRI represents a significant value when the therapy fee and results are considered together. At HCRI, clients benefit from a scientifically proven treatment program, administered by world-class clinicians, with a high probability of a positive and lasting outcome.
The 100 hours spent in HCRI’s stuttering therapy program equate to $42.85 per hour. This is likely much less than spending the same amount of time with traditional speech therapists. In addition to investing $4,285 for comprehensive treatment and post-therapy support, we recognize that travel and lodging costs will be incurred. Yet, consider these factors in relation to the speech outcomes from program participation.
At HCRI, you acquire fluency skills you can use for the rest of your life.
Also, consider the enormous value experienced daily by HCRI therapy graduates who enjoy the benefits of fluent speech in their everyday lives. After all, stuttering has significant personal costs. When you think about the human potential that is bottled up within a person who stutters, and the fact that this set of extraordinary capabilities is not realized, the costs of stuttering are enormous.
There is yet another cost of stuttering. It involves the cost that comes from missing the simple joy of speaking freely and fluently at will.
Taking into account all factors related to stuttering and treatment, the value of HCRI stuttering therapy is exceedingly strong. The treatment fee relative to therapy results yields tremendous value – quite possibly one of the best values available anywhere.
HCRI’s Roanoke, Virginia stuttering treatment center is easily accessible and within a day’s drive of 65% of the U.S. population. We offer several options to help you meet the cost of therapy. We have payment plans, scholarships and advice on agencies that might assist in meeting your costs. Our staff will help you in every way possible to make HCRI stuttering therapy available to you. Please contact us at email@example.com or 855-236-7032.
Bethany Marcusson-Mercedes works at a thriving start-up company that specializes in educational technology. As an experienced educator and school administrator, she is uniquely qualified in her role as a trainer and teacher liaison to help the company transform classrooms around the globe using new mobile technology.
Bethany’s responsibilities involve regular travel and speaking in front of large groups of educators on an ongoing basis. With the confidence and expertise she exudes in her presentations, no one is aware that Bethany has lived with a stuttering condition that impacted her ability to speak fluently since the age of three.
Beginning in elementary school, Bethany’s parents were proactive and enrolled her in speech therapy to address her stuttering. While she worked hard in therapy year after year, she continued to struggle with her speech on a daily basis.
She confronted ongoing communication challenges and was mocked by classmates because of her stuttering. Yet, with ever-growing fortitude and the encouragement of her parents, she pushed forward with her young life and participated in school and extracurricular activities.
Then, when she was 16 years old, Bethany and her parents were introduced to an engaging woman at their church who also had a stuttering condition – yet spoke fluently. Bethany learned that her new friend participated in the stuttering therapy program at Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI – www.stuttering.org) in Roanoke, Virginia where she acquired skills to speak fluently and spontaneously.
Developed by stuttering expert and HCRI Founder Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., HCRI stuttering therapy is a science-based, 12-day behavioral treatment that has been tested with thousands of stuttering cases. HCRI’s specially trained clinicians utilize detailed behavioral therapy protocols and advanced technology to systematically teach people how to replace abnormal muscle contractions that cause stuttering with specific, new muscle movements that generate fluent speech.
“Our center’s early research demonstrated that stuttering is a physical condition and not emotionally based. HCRI therapy teaches individuals how to control the physically derived repetitions, prolongations and voice blockages that characterize stuttered speech.” Webster explained. “During our treatment program, clients are methodically taught new ways of speaking that enable them to stop stuttering and generate fluent conversations in everyday situations.”
That meeting at church was a turning point in Bethany’s life. Her parents enrolled her in HCRI stuttering therapy. Bethany was excited about her treatment program and seized the opportunity to acquire skills that would enable her to take charge of her stuttering once and for all.
“I found HCRI stuttering therapy hard work. Each day was intensive and led to the next step in the treatment process. The other therapy participants and clinicians were an excellent support system throughout the program and afterwards,” Bethany said.
By the end of her treatment, the teen could speak fluently for the first time in her life. The therapy was transforming. Yet, Bethany knew that she had to commit to practicing her new speech skills every day once she returned home.
“Daily practice helped me habituate my fluency capabilities. While some days were harder than others, I continued to persevere to control my stuttering,” Bethany explained.
Even now, many years later, when she is preparing to speak in front of groups, Bethany mentally reviews the fundamental fluency principles she learned at HCRI.
“Without a doubt, I would not have the career that I have today without HCRI. The therapy and ongoing support from HCRI have made such a difference in my life,” she concluded.
Bethany’s Advice to Individuals who Stutter
Never let stuttering define you.
Don’t give up if you have a hard time.
Don’t let fears stand in the way of what you can achieve.
Get the help you need to make a difference in your life.
Stay connected to people, utilize available tools and have a support system you can always count on.
Hollins Communications Research Institute 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 innovative, scientifically derived therapy approaches.
HCRI clinicians have treated more than 6,500 individuals from across the U.S. and 50 countries. Research shows that 93% of therapy participants achieve fluency by the end of their 12-day program. Follow-up studies one and two years post therapy reveal 70-75% of clients maintain their fluent speech.
HCRI is located at 7851 Enon Drive, Roanoke, Va. 24019. For more information, contact HCRI at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-236-7032.
There are many factors that go into selecting an effective stuttering therapy program that is right for you. To help in your decision-making process, this infographic shows the outcomes you can expect from participating in the Hollins Communication Research Institute (HCRI) 12-day stuttering therapy program. It also illustrates why experience matters when it comes to choosing stuttering treatment. For more information, please visit www.stuttering.org. Contact HCRI at 855-236-7032 or email@example.com
Alumni of the Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) stuttering therapy program, along with Roanoke-area runners, participated in the nonprofit center’s first 5K Race and 1-Mile Fun Walk – Stride to Cure Stuttering – on Saturday, April 30, 2016.
The event was held on the beautiful Roanoke River Greenway in Downtown Roanoke, Virginia. Stride to Cure Stuttering helped raise much-needed funds to support HCRI’s ongoing work in stuttering research and treatment innovation.
The Institute was founded in 1972 by Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D. to investigate stuttering and develop new therapy approaches for the difficult-to-treat speech disorder. Today, HCRI is a leader in science-based stuttering treatment and has helped thousands of people who stutter from across the U.S. and 50 countries.
Donations raised from Stride to Cure Stuttering will further HCRI’s important work of making life-changing stuttering therapy more accessible and continuing research to find a cure for stuttering.
The race director and organizer was Courtney Stackhouse who also serves as a stuttering therapy clinician at HCRI. Forty-two competitors ran in the inaugural race, along with numerous others who participated in the event’s 1-Mile Fun Walk to help HCRI.
Following are the racers who clocked the fastest times for the 5K run.
Scott Nickell spends his work days calling prospects, conducting face-to-face meetings, strategizing solutions with co-workers, and giving presentations to packed rooms of industry professionals.
As Business Development Manager for a leading distribution company, success depends on Nickell’s ability to effectively communicate with decision makers and convey how his company can transform their operational systems into a competitive advantage.
His daily communication requirements are demanding even for the most eloquent and powerful speakers. Though, the gift of speech isn’t something Nickell takes for granted – and it isn’t something that comes naturally or easily. He lives with a stuttering condition that surfaced in his youth.
In school, his stuttering hindered his ability to socialize and diminished his self-confidence. He couldn’t say certain words and struggled to communicate each day.
After trying traditional speech therapies with no success, Nickell’s parents heard about the unique behavioral therapy offered at Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) in Roanoke, Virginia. They enrolled him in the intensive treatment program when he was 12 years old.
“My parents and I saw HCRI as the last shot. The ability to speak fluently meant everything to me and I was committed to giving 110 percent to the therapy program,” Nickell recalled.
He found HCRI stuttering treatment unlike any other therapy experience. It was hard work and he was the youngest of 10 participants in his therapy group. Yet, HCRI clinicians provided tremendous support and guided Nickell through each step in the treatment process.
According to HCRI President Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., HCRI clinicians work one-on-one with therapy participants and help them learn new, specifically defined ways to use speech muscles that enable the ability to speak fluently. Webster and his research team invented HCRI’s comprehensive behavioral therapy approach, which has been tested with thousands of people who stutter and continually refined through the years.
“Today, the use of advanced computer technology and real-time speech measurement during therapy at HCRI makes fluency acquisition even easier and more precise for participants,” Webster said. “In addition, our post-therapy clinical support and a comprehensive package of practice tools keep participants on track with fluency throughout their lives.”
HCRI research demonstrates that 93 percent of therapy participants achieve fluent speech at the conclusion of their treatment. Between 70 and 75 percent of people maintain long-term fluency.
By the end of his HCRI program, Nickell spoke fluently for the first time in his life. When he returned home, people could not believe how well he spoke. It was exhilarating for the 12-year-old to talk like everyone else.
However, Nickell is quick to point out that it is easy to fall back to old speaking habits without ongoing practice of the speech skills he learned during treatment. In fact, he practiced his HCRI fluency techniques every day for many years.
“When you are a stutterer, how you talk is always in the back of your mind,” he said. “Even to this day, I recall my HCRI fluency training and take advantage of HCRI’s online fluency-practice tools that are available to alumni.”
Nickell believes his experience with HCRI at an early age changed his trajectory in life – from his educational achievement to his career success. “I talk every single day, every single hour, as part of my job. I love what I do. I would be in a completely different line of work if it hadn’t been for HCRI. I don’t know where I would be without fluent speech,” he added.
HCRI clinicians have treated more than 6,400 people who stutter, aged 11 to 73, from 50 countries. Clients include students, broadcasters, athletes, teachers, engineers, doctors, military personnel, business professionals, police officers, actors, paramedics, and others from all walks of life. For more information about HCRI stuttering therapy, visit www.stuttering.org.