Overcoming Stuttering Paved the Way to Greater Confidence for This Talented, Young Entrepreneur

Akinleye Soyinka is among the latest generation of entrepreneurs who are leveraging their talent, passion and contacts to make their mark on the world. His creativity and diligence have enabled Akinleye to wear many hats, including fashion designer, disc jockey, and social media expert.

His latest undertaking involves launching his own fashion line that consists of cutting-edge clothing and jewelry, which will be showcased on his new website, nuyorkworks.com. Akinleye is humble when speaking about his achievements so early in his career. He points to the importance of hard work and effective communication as the underpinnings of his success.

Akinleye Soyinka
Akinleye Soyinka is a fashion designer, disc jockey and social media expert who is based in the New York area.

Effective communication holds particular importance to Akinleye because he developed a stuttering condition during his teenage years. His stuttering stood in the way of speaking at will, including joining classroom discussions and engaging with people in social settings.

“When I began to stutter in high school, it eroded my confidence. New people I met didn’t get the speech disorder and would laugh when I spoke,” Akinleye said. “By the time I got to college, I learned to simply deal with my speech and focus on what I wanted to accomplish.”

While in college, Akinleye went to a speech therapist with the hopes of quelling his stuttering. But, the twice-a-week regimen didn’t help. Then, he learned about Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) and the center’s 12-day immersion therapy program. He attended the program during a summer break.

HCRI stuttering therapy is a one-of-a-kind behavioral therapy invented by the institute’s research scientists. Specially trained clinicians work with participants using systematic treatment protocols and therapy technology that take individuals step-by-step through the therapy process – and on to fluency achievement.

“Our therapy approach teaches individuals how to address misbehaving speech-muscle activities that give rise to stuttering – and replace them with new muscle behaviors that produce fluent speech,” HCRI President Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D. explained.

During therapy at HCRI, Akinleye learned life-long skills that enabled him to control his stuttering and speak fluently. He participated in therapy with 9 other individuals from across the country.

“When I came to HCRI, I didn’t know what to expect. It turned out to be a wonderful experience. From the clinicians to the other participants, everyone was so supportive. It inspires me to know that people who stutter can get meaningful help from HCRI,” Akinleye said.

When he returned to college, Akinleye’s classmates and friends recognized right away the notable difference in his speech.

According to therapy research, 93% of HCRI participants achieve fluency by the end of their 12-day program. When evaluated two years after attending, 75% sustained the ability to control their stuttering and speak fluently.

“Fluency has given me more confidence and courage. HCRI taught me that stuttering is a physical condition that can be managed with tools that stay with you for life,” Akinleye added.

He also shared that his fluency capabilities are linked to the tremendous support he received from his family – before, during and after treatment.

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.

Nearly 7,000 people from across the U.S. and 50 countries have come to HCRI to learn skills for overcoming stuttering. Clients come from all walks of life and include broadcaster John StosselAnnie 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.

How 12 Days Can Positively Impact a Life

THE TRANSFORMING EFFECT OF HCRI STUTTERING THERAPY

Dallas native Connor Lane can’t remember a time when he didn’t stutter. While growing up, he couldn’t say his name. He feared meeting new people. He refrained from participating in class discussions. And, he couldn’t order food in restaurants.

As a teen, Connor’s stuttering continued to worsen. His inability to speak fluently impeded his quality of life. Yet, he tried to stay positive and kept pushing forward, making the best of circumstances with each passing day. He spent his time focusing on his grades and exploring his interests.

Connor Lane
Connor Lane

One particular interest that evolved into a passion was his love of music and playing the flute. Connor would practice for hours and perform in school recitals. Though, as he progressed with his musical skills, the speech blocks from his stuttering extended to his flute playing. Connor experienced issues with tongue articulation and control that got in the way of his ability to play.

Fast Forward to the Present

Today, Connor is working on his Doctoral in Musical Arts at University of Memphis and is a graduate assistant teaching music appreciation. Three times a week, he delivers the subject matter to a class of 150 students, while fielding questions during his presentations. His speech is fluent and eloquent.

At the same time, with his immense talent as a flutist, he is a member of the university’s orchestra and performs with area ensembles. He plays with precision and emotion, absent of the worry he once had about tongue control.

Enabling the Dramatic Change    

When Connor was a senior attending Bowling Green State University, he reached a point where he knew he needed to do something about his stuttering once and for all. He did not want his speech to get in the way of his ability to achieve his dream of becoming a college professor and an accomplished flutist.

His prior experience with speech therapy earlier in college was ineffective so he began researching other treatment options. An online search led him to the 12-day stuttering therapy program at Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI – www.stuttering.org).

“When I read about HCRI’s program, it was clear that the approach was different from other therapies.” Connor said. “I watched the before-and-after videos and could tell this therapy is something special.”

Then, Connor contacted the Virginia-based institute for more information and applied to HCRI’s therapy program. He knew attending involved a meaningful investment of his time, money and dedication to the therapy process. He was ready for it.

HCRI’s Immersion Program

HCRI stuttering therapy is a science-based, behavioral treatment, which was invented by HCRI President Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D. Therapy involves a step-by-step treatment system that teaches individuals who stutter how to replace faulty speech-muscle movements that cause stuttering with new muscle behaviors that generate fluent speech. Through this 12-day immersion program, people acquire the ability to control their stuttering and speak fluently in all types of situations.

“HCRI stuttering therapy is a comprehensive, one-of-a-kind treatment that has been tested and proven with thousands of cases that range from mild to severe,” Dr. Webster said. “No other stuttering treatment replicates the sophistication of HCRI stuttering therapy – or the individualized approach from which clients benefit.”

The Experience

At HCRI, Connor spent eight hours a day working one-on-one with specially trained clinicians and learned new ways to use his speech muscles to stop stuttering. Therapy took place in HCRI’s clinical setting, as well as in real-world environments. He practiced his newly acquired speaking skills with other participants who stuttered and used HCRI’s proprietary treatment technologies.

“The therapy was like a much-needed shock to my system. It was challenging, but such a huge opportunity to learn. I took it very seriously,” Connor said.

As each day passed, Connor’s speech continued to transform and his stuttering continued to diminish. He left HCRI with the ability to speak fluently and spontaneously. He also left with a comprehensive package of post-therapy support that included on-going phone support with clinicians, fluency practice software, program materials, and an iPhone app to help him practice and check his fluency skills.

Connor added, “The therapists guided me every step of the way. I worked primarily with Holly Humphreys who encouraged me, challenged me, and helped me achieve fluency. She was great to work with and I stay in contact with her regularly.”

Fluency through HCRI Therapy

Mrs. Humphreys, HCRI’s clinical supervisor, said Connor’s fierce dedication to the therapy process helped propel his success in the program. “He followed each step of the program to a T and worked diligently each day. Since returning home, Connor checks in with me whenever he needs guidance and support, which I encourage all of our clients to do.”

Mrs. Humphreys noted that Connor is a great role model for how to work hard and achieve lasting fluency with the HCRI program. Research demonstrates that 93% of HCRI participants achieve fluency by the end of their 12-day program. Follow-up studies reveal that 75% of participants maintain fluency when evaluated two years later.

Through the ability to speak fluently, Connor is well on his way to accomplishing his life goals to be a professor and sought-after flutist. According to Connor, “What I got from HCRI was life changing. The experience was priceless.”

__________

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 over 12 days. 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.

 

Jean DePiro Overcame Stuttering’s Debilitating Impact and Found Her Voice

A LOOK BACK AFTER 30+ YEARS

Music served as a refuge for the young, gifted Jean DePiro who began stuttering before she entered grade school. To escape the relentless taunting from classmates and siblings, Jean would spend time alone playing piano and listening to music. She would also sing to herself, since the physical properties that drive stuttering are typically not present when someone sings.

While growing up, Jean’s stuttering inhibited her from participating in classroom discussions, making new friends, and engaging in social activities. Her speech condition eroded her confidence and made her reclusive.

Jean DePiro Overcame Stuttering
Jean DePiro

“As a massive stutterer, I was miserable. I couldn’t pick up the phone and say hello. I couldn’t communicate with others. And, I simply shut down. Music was my only joy,” she said.

That all changed when Jean turned 17. Her parents learned about the pioneering work in stuttering therapy at Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI). HCRI’s research scientists had identified a new way to view and treat stuttering. The result was a transforming, immersion therapy that systematically teaches individuals how to use speech muscles in new ways to control stuttering and speak fluently.

Jean enrolled in the nonprofit center’s three-week program and began therapy with 10 other participants from across the country. She worked intensely each day under the guidance of the center’s clinicians. Her efforts paid off. By the end of treatment, Jean was able to speak fluently for the first time in her life. In addition, she was amazed by her ability to talk with ease when standing in front of other participants. Prior to HCRI, speaking before a group was a terrifying concept.

“I was in tears by what I had accomplished,” Jean explained. “When you struggle with stuttering for so many years and have it resolved in such a short time, it is an overwhelming experience.”

According to HCRI President Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., “HCRI therapy is founded on science and tested with thousands of cases. Clients learn step-by-step exactly what they need to do with their speech muscles to achieve fluency. They are instructed by specially trained clinicians and use HCRI’s proprietary technology to make fluency acquisition easier, precise and long lasting.”

HCRI’s program, which is now 12 days in length, is effective across a wide range of stuttering types and severities. It yields proven, quantitative fluency outcomes. Research demonstrates that 93% of participants achieve fluent speech by the end of treatment and 75% sustain their fluency when evaluated two years later.

After Jean returned home from HCRI, she felt a new sense of freedom and potential. “My experience with HCRI therapy was life-changing,” she said. “For so long, I didn’t have a voice. Thanks to HCRI, now I do and I love to talk.”

More than three decades later, Jean continues to use the fluency skills she learned at HCRI. Her speech never holds her back from anything she wants to do. Music continues to play an important role in her life. She serves as the music director for a popular theatre house, as well as a church choir director and organist, while working in Revenue Cycle Training at the University of Virginia Hospital.

Moreover, she used her journey from stuttering to fluency to inspire a student she met at the University of Virginia. She shared her story and encouraged the student to seek HCRI stuttering treatment to help him realize his career dreams. He took her advice and is facing a future filled with opportunities through fluency.

————

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.

Ambition and Hard Work Enabled Sean Griffin to Achieve Fluency – and Land his Dream Job

Sean Griffin of Princeton, New Jersey had his sights on a career in broadcast journalism when he entered Rutgers University four years ago. To help accomplish his career ambition, he double majored in journalism and sports management.

Adding practical experience to his studies, he volunteered as a play-by-play sports announcer for the university’s radio station, as well as served as an intern for a nationally syndicated morning news show and at SiriusXM.

Sean Griffin
Sean Griffin

Through steadfast motivation and hard work, Sean was on his way to attaining his goal. There was only one thing that stood in his way. His stuttering. Sean characterized his stuttering as a mild-to-moderate condition.

To proactively address his stuttering and prepare for his future career, Sean enrolled in two different speech therapy programs while at college. He experienced some improvement in his fluency after each; yet, the results were not lasting.

Then he learned about Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) and the center’s unique approach to stuttering treatment. HCRI’s 12-day immersion therapy utilizes science and principles of learning to help individuals who stutter acquire skills to control stuttering and speak fluently.

According to HCRI President Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., “HCRI’s therapy approach is systematic and rigorous. Our specially trained clinicians teach participants step-by-step how to retrain their speech muscles to produce sustained fluent speech.”

Sean found his experience with HCRI stuttering therapy to be challenging, yet rewarding. “I went into the program with the attitude of giving it my all,” he said. “I found the therapy to be intense, but extremely effective.”

What was unexpected for Sean was the welcoming atmosphere at HCRI and all the relationships he made. In addition to connections with HCRI clinicians that continue today, he noted the benefit of getting to know other program participants.

“Meeting other people who stutter gave me a sense of comfort and reinforcement because they were experiencing the same issues as me. I wasn’t alone,” he said.

Sean added, “Since my therapy six months ago, I have become more confident in myself and my speaking abilities. I continue to practice the fluency skills I learned and check in with my clinician regularly.”

Ongoing clinician contact and post-therapy practice are important elements of the HCRI experience. They help clients habituate fluency skills learned during therapy. HCRI provides clients with a comprehensive package of practice tools and support once they complete their 12-day program. This kit includes fluency-practice software, therapy manuals, and a proprietary mobile app that help keep fluency skills on track.

“Finding HCRI has been a true blessing for me. I’ve learned how to manage my stuttering and that has helped me move forward in life,” he added

Since graduating from Rutgers and attending HCRI, Sean started a new chapter in his life. He landed a new job after an extensive interview process that involved face-to-face meetings and testing. He is now working for ABC News as a producer, fulfilling his career goal to work in broadcast journalism.

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 to achieve fluency. 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.

Overcoming Stuttering with HCRI Opened Doors for Harvard-Bound Justin Ernest

Justin Ernest is heading to Harvard Business School this fall after four years working for Coca Cola in the company’s Capital Markets Group. The Atlanta, Georgia native is eager to start his advanced degree and will study entrepreneurship and finance. His goal is to launch his own business after graduation

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Justin Ernest

Working hard and taking on challenges are second nature for Justin. For as long as he can remember, he has coped with a severe stutter that impacted him academically and socially.

Answering questions in class, reading out loud, and giving presentations were ongoing challenges. Seeing how strangers responded when he tried to speak was unsettling, as well. Yet, Justin persisted with unwavering determination and a positive attitude.

Justin participated in different speech therapies to stop his stutter, but only experienced minimal improvement that was not lasting. He also tried an auditory feedback device to reduce stuttering. The device performed better than his therapy, yet it did not make him fluent.

Then, a friend in high school who also had a stutter told him about the stuttering therapy provided at Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI ). The friend’s speech transformed from stuttering to fluency after attending. Justin researched HCRI’s behavioral treatment program and enrolled.

According to HCRI President Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., “During HCRI’s stuttering therapy program, participants work with specially trained clinicians to systematically learn new, detailed speech behaviors that enable lasting fluency. Proprietary technology also is used in the treatment process to make fluency-skill acquisition easier for clients to master and sustain.”

HCRI stuttering therapy was developed in-house by the Institute’s research scientists and tested with thousands of stuttering cases. The science-based program includes 100 hours of intensive treatment in clinical and real world settings over 12 days.

“The therapy program at HCRI was more rigorous than I expected. It was fulfilling and exceeded my expectations,” Justin said. “There were 10 others in the program with me, ages 15 to 35, who came from across the country. Clinician’s taught us step-by-step how to replace stuttered speech with fluent speech in all types of situations,” he explained.

Research demonstrates that 93 percent of HCRI stuttering therapy participants achieve fluency by the end of their 12-day treatment program. Follow-up studies reveal that 70 to 75 percent of clients maintain their fluency when evaluated one and two years after therapy.

“Stuttering is a life-long issue and there is no cure. You have to consider all your options to manage it effectively. For me, HCRI was the answer,” Justin said.

Webster noted, “Highly motivated individuals like Justin are very likely to achieve long-term fluency with HCRI. A commitment to post-therapy practice is key to habituating newly acquired speaking skills.”

HCRI provides clients with a comprehensive package of post-therapy resources and clinician support. Since attending, Justin uses HCRI practice tools, manuals and software, as well as occasionally participates in training calls with other HCRI alumni. He also reaches out to his clinician whenever he needs assistance.

“Fluency has opened doors for me socially, academically and from a business perspective,” Justin said. “The ability to speak spontaneously wherever and whenever I want changed my life for the better,” he said.

Justin offers the following advice to others who stutter.

  • Focus on the positive
  • Be open and honest about your stuttering
  • Spend time with a supportive group of friends
  • Find a treatment approach that works for you
  • Seek out situations that bring out the best of your abilities

About HCRI – www.stuttering.org

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 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.

 

Positivity, Commitment and Faith Paved the Way to Fluency for Clemson University Student Russ Smith

College sophomore Russ Smith is intensely focused on his career goal of becoming a specialist in the field of dentistry. He maintains a rigorous academic schedule as a biochemistry major with a double minor in financial management and biology at Clemson University. Along with his studies, he serves as a recreational program leader on campus, participates in internship opportunities, and volunteers his time to help others.

HCRI Therapy Participant Russ Smith
Russ Smith

To meet the challenges of his educational and co-curricular demands, Russ faces each day with a positive mindset, commitment to succeed, and reliance on his deep, enduring faith. These same attributes also helped him take action to overcome his severe stutter, a speech condition he lived with since early childhood.

While growing up, school classmates and friends were accepting of his stuttered speech. Though, each day presented unpredictable communication challenges.

“The people who knew me appreciated me for the person I am. Yet, having a stutter was hard to deal with mentally because I didn’t know how it was going to manifest itself at any moment – or in the future.” he explained. In retrospect, Russ noted that his stuttering helped him become tougher, more resilient, and more determined than ever to succeed in life.

During high school, Russ resolved to do something about his stuttering once and for all. He had unwavering support from his parents. Together they researched treatment options and learned about the unique stuttering therapy at Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI – www.stuttering.org) in Roanoke, Virginia. They liked the fact that HCRI is a science-based treatment program, which teaches participants life-long skills to control stuttering and talk fluently at will.

According to HCRI President Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., the HCRI therapy program has been tested with thousands of stuttering cases that range from mild to severe. “Our behavioral therapy was invented here at our stuttering research and treatment center. HCRI therapy features detailed clinical protocols and advanced technology that systematically teach participants how to control stuttering’s repetitions, prolongations and voice blockages.”

Research demonstrates that 93 percent of HCRI participants achieve fluent speech by the end of their 12-day program. Follow-up studies reveal 70 to 75 percent maintain fluency when tested one and two years after therapy.

Russ is quick to point out that HCRI stuttering treatment is rigorous and involves eight hours of intense therapy each day, plus homework. “You have to be totally committed to the program. Only then will you see strong fluency results and a lasting speech transformation.”

When Russ attended HCRI stuttering therapy, he was 15 years old. He entered the program not knowing what to expect. With “blind faith” he followed the treatment process with precision. He saw his speech improve with each day. After 12 days, Russ achieved the ability to control his stuttering and speak fluently.

Remarking about his new-found fluency, Russ said it was a feeling of “absolute freedom.” At the same time, he emphasizes that HCRI stuttering therapy is not a magic pill. Acquiring and sustaining the skills to speak fluently requires hard work while in therapy and practice post treatment.

“For our clients, we are a partner in fluency for life,” Dr. Webster said. His nonprofit center encourages participants to maintain ongoing phone contact with HCRI’s clinical team – even years after treatment. To help clients maintain robust fluency once they leave, HCRI provides post-therapy resources and networking opportunities, including online practice software, retreats, refresher courses, and client-run practice groups.

Russ believes the opportunity to network is an exceptional benefit offered by the Institute. He attends HCRI events and volunteers his time to facilitate a weekly HCRI practice group that helps other alumni keep their speech skills at peak levels.

“I couldn’t pursue a career in dentistry without HCRI stuttering therapy,” Russ said. “The dentist-patient interaction goes on all the time, every day– and requires consistently proficient communication. I’m blessed to have that ability now thanks to HCRI.”

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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.

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 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.

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.

 

Achieving Fluency and Confidence with HCRI… that Led to a Proposal

Written by Courtney Stackhouse

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.”

Byron and Betsy

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.”

 

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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 come from all walks of life and include broadcaster John StosselAnnie 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.