A Primer on Stuttering: Incidence, Characteristics and Treatment

Stuttering is one of humankind’s most misunderstood and mistreated disorders.

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

In this primer on stuttering, Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D. provides an overview on the prevalence and characteristics of stuttering, along with key genetic findings and treatment options. Dr. Webster is president and founder of Hollins Communication Research Institute (HCRI). He also is a clinical psychologist, author, and professor emeritus of psychology. HCRI is an internationally recognized center for stuttering research and treatment innovation.

When Did Stuttering First Appear in Humans?

Stuttering is unique to humans and has a long, long history in human experience. Research and publications suggest that stuttering became part of the human condition as long as 60,000 years ago and evolved along with our species, homo sapiens.

Ancient Egyptian clay tablets from 4,000 years B.C. referenced stuttering and labeled it “nit-nit.” Chinese poetry noted stuttering over 2,500 years ago B.C. The Bible and Koran make reference to stuttering in a number of instances. In particular, the Bible suggests that Moses may have been a stutterer and, for that reason, asked his brother Aaron to read the Ten Commandments after he came down from the mountain.

Incidence of Stuttering

Stuttering, also known as stammering, is a global disorder, occurring in one-percent of the population. Thus, in the U.S., there are approximately three million persons who stutter. Globally, stutterers number about 70 million. Stuttering affects four times as many males as females. The type and severity of stuttering varies by individual – and the condition may change in intensity, based on the day and speaking situation.

Characteristics and Onset of Stuttering

Individuals who stutter experience involuntary disruptions in their flow of speech, which impacts their ability to speak fluently and effectively communicate in everyday situations.

primer on stutteringStuttering is characterized by interruptions in the flow of speech that take the form of repetitions of sounds, syllables and words (as with “my-my-my-my house”); prolonging the initial sounds of syllables (like “n-n-n-no”); and voice blockage when no sound is produced. These speech characteristics may be accompanied by overt physical behaviors, such as rapid eye blinks, facial twitches or tremors of the lips.

The onset of stuttering typically occurs in 4 to 5 percent of children. It happens when children are between two and four years of age, as speech and language skills are developing. While about 69% of children will outgrow the problem by age 12, their stuttering can negatively impact friendships, daily interactions, and school performance.

If childhood stuttering persists into adolescence, it is unlikely that spontaneous remission will occur as the person ages. Life-long stuttering can dramatically impede social, educational and economic growth, as well as limit the realization of an individual’s personal potential. Stutterers are estimated to earn about $5,000 to $8,000 per year less than their peers who do not stutter.

More on the cost of stuttering >>

Role of Genetics in Stuttering

Stuttering is well known to occur within families. Around 70% of persons who stutter can identify another family member or members who stutter.  For men who have ever stuttered, 9% of their daughters and 22% of their sons likely will be stutterers. For women who have ever stuttered, 17% of their daughters and 36% of their sons likely will be identified as stutterers. Thus, the evidence suggests that women pass on genetic material related to stuttering more than men, even though they are found to stutter less themselves.

In a breakthrough study by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), three mutant genes linked to stuttering were identified, and the identification of a fourth mutant gene followed. HCRI collaborated with the NIDCD on this genetic research, as well as with follow-up studies.

HCRI’s work on the genetics of stuttering >>

At the present time, one or more of the mutant genes have been found in approximately 20% of cases showing stuttering. Further research is likely to identify additional mutant genes involved in the causation of stuttering. The key point is that clear evidence of genetic involvement with stuttering support the basic thesis that mechanisms internal to the biological function of humans are causal in stuttering.

In addition to genetic factors, evidence is developing that both children and adults who stutter display anomalies of brain structure and function in areas involved in the production of speech.

Treatment Approaches

There is no cure for stuttering; yet, there are different therapies to help lessen or remedy the condition. Each of the treatments has varying degrees of success and individuals should evaluate treatment options to determine which approaches are best suited to their needs. Therapy options include the following.

  • Traditional speech therapy that involves regularly scheduled sessions with a provider to help reduce disfluency and stress. This type of therapy tends to be open-ended and can last for several years. Fluency outcomes are mildly effective.
  • Counseling-related therapies that focus on helping clients accept their stuttering and decrease communication anxiety. While those treated may benefit from counseling as a means to better accept the fact they stutter, few become fluent.
  • Self-help groups provide a support system for individuals who stutter and help them feel better about their speech. Yet, as with counseling-related approaches, very few individuals achieve fluency.
  • Science-based behavioral therapy, invented by HCRI research scientists, has consistently proven to help individuals achieve and sustain fluent speech. This 12-day immersion treatment teaches persons how to replace faulty speech muscles that give rise to stuttering and replace them with new muscle behaviors that generate fluent speech. Research demonstrates that 93% of therapy participants achieve fluency after 12 days. 75% maintain fluent speech when evaluated 2 years after therapy.

More about HCRI stuttering Therapy >>

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) nonprofit organization, has become an international leader in stuttering research and the development of scientifically derived therapy approaches.

More than 7,000 individuals from across the U.S. and 50 countries have come to HCRI for stuttering treatment. Clients represent 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 stuttering.org or contact HCRI at 855-236-7032 or info@stuttering.org.

 

HCRI Receives $200,000 Gift from National TV Journalist John Stossel

NEWS ANNOUNCEMENT

Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI – www.stuttering.org), an international stuttering research and therapy center headquartered in Roanoke, Virginia, has received a $200,000 gift from national television journalist John Stossel.

John Stossel
Photograph of John Stossel by Gage Skidmore

Mr. Stossel is a former HCRI stuttering therapy client. He is an Emmy Award winning television journalist, news anchor, book author, columnist, and pundit. Mr. Stossel is recognized for his distinguished career on ABC News and Fox Business Channel, as well as his libertarian perspectives on Stossel TV.

“This meaningful gift will enable our nonprofit institute to continue helping individuals who stutter open doors of opportunity that were never before possible,” said HCRI President Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D. Funds from Mr. Stossel’s  donation will be used to support the center’s therapy scholarship program and stuttering research initiatives.

“We are grateful for John’s generosity in supporting our important cause. His impressive communication skills are a fine example of how HCRI’s science-based therapy can help individuals stop stuttering and speak fluently in all types of situations,” Dr. Webster said.

Mr. Stossel has been an ally of HCRI through the years. He has promoted the institute in news stories and provided financial support. In recognition of Mr. Stossel’s generous gift, HCRI is designating clinical space at the institute in his name.

HCRI therapy participants spend 12 days in HCRI’s clinic learning lifelong skills that enable them to stop stuttering and speak fluently. The institute’s stuttering treatment program delivers among the highest documented fluency outcomes for stuttering therapy. Research demonstrates that 93% of program participants achieve fluency by the end of HCRI therapy. When evaluated two years after treatment, 75% of clients sustained their fluency skills.

Mr. Stossel made his donation to HCRI using bitcoin, which was the institute’s first experience accepting a gift in digital currency. Dr. Webster noted that processing the cryptocurrency donation was an intriguing learning experience – and likely an indicator of what is in store for future gifts across nonprofits.

More than 7,000 people from 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.

The institute was founded by Dr. Webster to investigate stuttering, develop new treatment approaches, and administer life-changing stuttering therapy. Stuttering impacts three million people in the U.S. and 66 million people globally.

HCRI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and is in its 49th year of operation. The center is located at 7851 Enon Drive, Roanoke, Va. 24019. For more information, visit www.stuttering.org or contact HCRI at 855-236-7032.

The Cost of Your Stuttering vs. the Cost of Stuttering Therapy at HCRI

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

In this article, Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., president of Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI), offers a quantitative perspective to help individuals evaluate the cost that stuttering imposes on people’s lives compared to the cost of attending HCRI’s 12-day stuttering therapy program. 

HCRI’s immersion therapy is a powerful, proven behavioral based treatment that works across stuttering types and severities. During therapy, participants systematically learn how to replace the distorted contractions and movements that give rise to stuttering with new speech-muscle behaviors that generate fluent speech.

Looking at the Numbers: Is HCRI Stuttering Therapy Worth the Investment?

It has been estimated that individuals who stutter, compared with those who do not stutter, are likely to earn approximately $7,000 to $8,000 less per year. The simple fact is that stuttering is generally viewed as a negative in the world of work. Typical business hiring practices and promotion policies do not provide accommodations for persons who stutter.

Cost of Stuttering1

Over the course of a working lifetime of 45 years, the anticipated personal earnings of the person who stutterers is approximately $335,000 less than for a person who does not stutter. That represents slightly over one third of a million dollars of lost earnings. And, in a significant number of potential high achievers, the lost earnings could be much higher.

Cost of Stuttering TherapyNow, contrast that number of lost wages with the cost of stuttering therapy at HCRI, with its high probability of a successful, fluent outcome.

The present HCRI stuttering therapy fee of $4,285 provides an intensive 12-day program involving 100 hours of direct treatment. That means that the actual cost of this program is under $43 per clock (60-minute) hour. Contrast that with other therapies that may well be $80 to $120 per 45- to 50-minute clinical hour. The lifetime cost of HCRI stuttering therapy comes to 1.8 cents per day.

Your Return on Investment with HCRI

Considering the potential of lost wages over a working lifetime, the investment in HCRI stuttering therapy delivers impressive returns.

Therefore, the return on investment of your therapy fees has the potential to be significant over a career.

Beyond the Money

You may also wish to learn that 78% of program graduates surveyed indicated they had increased their quality of life after participating in HCRI therapy.  In the same survey, 79% said their personal happiness and satisfaction increased and 84% reported greater confidence after participation.

There are genuine personal and economic factors to be considered when you are selecting a stuttering treatment program. Our program at HCRI provides exceptional value to our clients.

Proven Results

Research demonstrates that 93% of HCRI stuttering therapy participants achieve fluent speech by the end of their 12-day program. When evaluated two years after therapy, 75% maintain their ability to speak fluently. These numbers represents among the strongest documented outcomes of any stuttering therapy.

Therefore, there is a strong likelihood of success with HCRI stuttering therapy. Your commitment to the therapy process at HCRI plays a key role in your outcomes, as well.

We invite you to learn more about our approach to stuttering therapy and how our science-based treatment can benefit you. For more information, contact us at 855-236-7032 or via email. Our website at www.stuttering.org also offers extensive information on our program and what you can expect.

New Speech Pathologist Joins the HCRI Team

Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI), a national center for stuttering research and treatment innovation, welcomes Sarah Buchholz, M.Ed., CCC-SLP, a speech-language pathologist joining HCRI’s expert team of stuttering therapists.

Sarah Buchholz
Sarah Buchholz

Sarah brings to HCRI strong experience working in a clinical team environment. She has treated students and other patients for a variety of fluency, language, and speech-sound disorders. An ardent interest in stuttering and HCRI’s science-based therapy drew her to the institute.

“Stuttering is difficult to treat effectively with traditional speech therapy. I experienced this first hand,” Sarah said. “Yet, HCRI’s approach is vastly different and more effective than anything I’ve seen in the field. It transforms speech. When I heard about the open position, I knew I wanted to be a part of the institute’s work.”

Sarah received her Master of Education in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Virginia (UVA). For her undergraduate studies, she earned a degree in Special Education Integrated Studies at Liberty University.

Sarah completed HCRI’s rigorous 500-hour training that certifies her 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.

According to HCRI President Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., “We are pleased to have Sarah on our clinical team. From day one, she has shown her dedication to HCRI therapy excellence and serving the needs of our clients.”

Sarah joins stuttering therapists Candy Smith, Amy Finch, Kristin Stanley, and Courtney Stackhouse in administering HCRI’s 12-day treatment program, as well as serving HCRI alumni.

In her free time, Sarah enjoys running, hiking, exercising, and spending time with her husband, Carl, and their two dogs. They also are devotees of UVA sports and activities.

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) nonprofit organization, has become an international leader in stuttering research and the development of scientifically derived therapy approaches.

Nearly 7,000 individuals 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.

FluencyNet: HCRI’s Fluency Practice Software

When stuttering therapy participants at Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) complete their 12-day program, they return home with an extensive package of practice tools and clinical support to help them maintain fluency for the long term. One of these tools is a free six-month subscription to FluencyNet, HCRI’s proprietary fluency practice system.

The computer-based program complements HCRI stuttering therapy by validating and strengthening the use of specific fluency-generating behaviors that clients acquire during therapy.

How Does It Work?

FluencyNet is based on the physical analysis of speech sounds as they are being uttered. HCRI’s hardware and software provide…

  1. Real-time measures of speech sounds;
  2. An immediate evaluation of the utterances relative to HCRI fluency standards; and
  3. Delivery of speech results in graphs plotted on the computer screen.

FluencyNetlarger

When an onscreen graph shows an accumulation of many green bars and few red bars, the speech signals are judged to be mostly correct. On the other hand, when the onscreen graph shows an accumulation of many red bars and few green bars, the speech signals are judged to be outside the limits necessary for the maintenance of fluent speech.

Who Most Benefits from FluencyNet?

The answer to the question above relies on the level of skill attained in using fluency “targets” in everyday life. Targets are new speech-muscle movements/patterns that replace the distorted contractions and movements that give rise to stuttering. Using the new behaviors or targets generates fluent speech.

Most program graduates who are solidly on target with their new speech skills and talk with few disfluencies may not have a need to use the software. Yet, if individuals are somewhat unstable with their use of fluency skills, FluencyNet may provide the boost needed to move to more stable, consistent use of those speaking skills.

FluencyNet is always there in the event a past participant needs it – whether one month or ten years after attending HCRI.

How Much Is FluencyNet?

As noted earlier, the first six-month subscription is always free for HCRI therapy graduates. The subscription includes a standard microphone and FluencyNet software. If after 6 months, an individual wants to continue with FluencyNet, there are short-, intermediate- and long-term subscriptions available.

Pricing begins at $19.95 for 30 days. Three-month ($54.95), six-month ($99.94), annual ($174.95) and lifetime subscriptions ($425) are available.

Other Valuable Support and Practice Tools for Program Grads

In addition to FluencyNet, the HCRI clinical team stays in touch with program participants after therapy through phone contact and emails. Even years later, HCRI clinicians welcome calls from alumni needing support and guidance.

Other beneficial post-therapy tools includes HCRI’s iPhone practice app, therapy program materials, access to fluency practice groups by phone and Zoom, and remote and in-person refresher programs.

To learn more about HCRI’s alumni support offerings, click here or reach out at 855-236-7032 or info@stuttering.org.

At HCRI, we are your partner in fluency for life.

Stuttering Therapy Q&A with HCRI President Dr. Ron Webster

At Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI), we always welcome calls and emails from individuals who stutter and look forward to answering questions about our 12-day stuttering therapy program. To help those who want to learn more about our treatment, we also offer extensive information online at stuttering.org and provide helpful information packets on request.

Our team has compiled a list of HCRI Frequently Asked Questions that we include in our nonprofit center’s materials and on our website. Recently, HCRI President Dr. Ron Webster was asked some additional questions we felt were important to share. Following are those questions and Dr. Webster’s responses.

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

Question: 

Is your proprietary stuttering therapy program offered only in Roanoke, Virginia?

Dr. Webster’s Answer: 

Yes, our 12-day treatment program is administered only in Roanoke. Why? HCRI’s facility is designed for the specific purpose of administering stuttering therapy, researching the condition, and developing treatment innovations. Our building is equipped with customized electronics and therapy technology that facilitate the learning of lasting fluency skills. In addition, our treatment tools and protocols enable our team to constantly monitor therapy procedures to always deliver the highest standards of clinical excellence.

In addition to administering our therapy program, HCRI’s expert clinicians continuously evaluate the details and effectiveness of our methods. Constant scrutiny of our work is a necessary component of keeping quality standards where we think they have to be to deliver powerful, effective stuttering therapy. At HCRI, you can count on benefiting from our focused approach to your therapy. You can be assured that the quality of your experience at HCRI will be worthwhile for you.

Question:

Is your HCRI stuttering therapy available on the web?

Dr. Webster’s Answer:

Could we conduct our program via the internet? Yes, but we don’t – and for good reason. Our work on distance therapy has shown that, at the present time, we cannot meet the same standards of excellence that are met when clients come to HCRI. There are too many variables at work that compromise the quality of fluency training.

If you wish to receive our highest standards of therapy delivery, you will travel to Roanoke. We will not offer convenience in place of quality. In addition, when you attend therapy here, you will receive careful, direct attention from our clinicians that guides the quality of your training in ways that are unique to your learning style. You will benefit maximally from the powerful experience of being here.

Our therapy program involves 100 hours of instruction and guided practice of fluency skills, skill sequences, and error recognition and correction. Your speech is complex. It takes time and precision learning to change the detailed way in which you understand your speech, alter small details of speech-muscle activity, and use fluency skills in your daily life. One hundred hours is the minimum time that we have found to be effective for most of our clients. There appears to be no good shortcuts to this proposition.

Question:

Is HCRI stuttering therapy a good value for me?

Dr. Webster’s Answer:

If you look at the cost of therapy, which totals $4,250, there is no argument that a significant amount of money is involved. However, if you look at the cost related to the number of therapy hours you receive with HCRI, then our therapy cost comes in at $42.50 per hour.

In contrast, many therapists charge $90 per clinical hour (a 50-minute period). If it takes you 100 clinical hours of such treatment, you will need to pay roughly $9,000. And, you likely never received upfront information about the success rates of such therapies.

When you consider HCRI’s fluency outcomes, then our program is likely to be more effective and cost less than most therapies available today.  An old physician friend once said to me, “The most expensive medicine is that which does not work.” You might wish to think about that idea as you consider selecting a therapy for yourself.

HCRI stuttering therapy has a record of producing excellent fluency results for most of our clients. Research shows that 93 percent achieve fluent speech by the end of their 12-day program. Seventy to 75 percent of clients maintain fluency when evaluated one and two years post therapy.

As one of our clients said, “In fact, the HCRI stuttering therapy program is not expensive – in my view, it is priceless!” We think that says it all.

Question:

Does HCRI offer any follow-up assistance in the event I need it?

Dr. Webster’s Answer:

Yes, our post-therapy support is comprehensive. Yet, most of our clients report that they do not need continuing follow-up treatment to retain their fluency. The reason for this is that HCRI stuttering therapy relies on new ways to train speech-motor skills that use the correct application of fundamental principles of learning. Our research results demonstrate that our clients learn robust fluency skillsnot fragile fluency skills that breakdown soon after therapy is completed.

For those who want additional assistance after their therapy program, we provide direct clinical instruction via telephone or computer video conferencing. Often, a quick clinical insight from one of our clinicians puts a client back on track.

Every client receives a take-home package that includes HCRI’s fluency-practice software, therapy manuals, and the use of our proprietary app that help keep fluency skills on track. We host refresher programs and an annual retreat for our clients.  In addition, alumni-led practice groups via phone are available year round. At HCRI, we are your partner in fluency for life.

If you have additionalquestions about our nonprofit center or HCRI’s science-based approach to stuttering therapy, please contact us at 855-236-7032 or info@stuttering.org.

Click here for more – Stuttering Therapy Q&A >>

HCRI Announces New Online Services for Stuttering Therapy Alumni

Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI), a leader in stuttering research and treatment innovation, announces new remote support services during the COVID-19 pandemic to support the needs of the institute’s therapy alumni.

During this time when individuals are concerned about their health and safety, HCRI responded quickly and innovatively to promote the well-being of HCRI alumni, clients and staff.

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

According to HCRI President Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., the nonprofit institute has stringently implemented guidelines set forth by the Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. In addition, the HCRI clinical team is now working remotely and continuing to serve the needs of HCRI therapy participants.

Dr. Webster added. “To extend our services and support during this most unusual time in the world, the HCRI team has rolled out new online services for alumni who are practicing social distancing or who are quarantined.”

ONLINE SUPPORT SERVICES

FaceTime Sessions
These sessions are tailored to each individual’s needs. Sessions may be scheduled for 30 minutes or an hour. Contact Holly Humphreys at 855-236-7032 or holly@stuttering.org to schedule your session.

2-Day Reset
This program allows individuals to fine-tune targets, while working individually with HCRI clinicians over a two-day period. Time will be spent reviewing and practicing targets, as well as participating in individually tailored transfer activities. Contact Holly Humphreys at 540-265-5659 or holly@stuttering.org for registration information.

Remote Refreshers
HCRI is continuing to offer its Remote Refresher programs for HCRI alumni. The Remote Refresher is designed to help persons recapture the ability to control stuttering, stay on target, and speak fluently in all types of situations. Participants receive an in-depth review of the skills taught during HCRI’s 12-day stuttering therapy. Online sessions take place over a one-month period. Please email Candy Smith at candy@stuttering.org for information about this program.

FluencyNet
HCRI’s online practice software, FluencyNet, is now available to former therapy participants at a 50% savings. Pricing is based on the length of the subscription. For information, contact Linda Booth at 855-236-7032 or info@stuttering.org.

Complimentary Weekly Check-ins
As always, the HCRI clinical staff remains available to provide free weekly support to anyone who attended HCRI stuttering therapy in the past. Individuals are encouraged to send an email to schedule a check-in call with a clinician.

HCRI CLINICIANS

HCRI clinicians are compassionate and skilled in the delivery of HCRI’s science-based stuttering therapy. While working remotely, HCRI’s clinical team continues to provide the highest standards of clinical excellence inherent to HCRI’s therapy delivery.

Holly Humphreys
Holly Humphreys

Candy Smith
Candy Smith

Amy Finch
Amy Finch

Kristin Stanley
Kristin Stanley

Dr. Webster added, “We remain committed to serving the needs of individuals who stutter, as well as continuing to work toward meeting the growing demand for online services while this crisis persists.”

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) nonprofit 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 the center’s 12-day stuttering therapy. 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 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.

 

Results Announced for Pioneering Research on the Effect of Mutant Genes on HCRI Stuttering Therapy

NEWS ALERT:  Roanoke, Va (September 12, 2019) – Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI), a national center for stuttering research and therapy innovation, just completed another research initiative in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The study is the first to evaluate stuttering therapy outcomes among a group of stutterers who possess one of four mutant genes for stuttering in comparison to a group who do not carry the same mutant genes.

Findings revealed significant fluency outcomes for both groups following participation in HCRI’s 12-day stuttering therapy program. At the same time, results suggested stuttering is slightly more resistant to therapy in individuals who carry a stuttering gene mutation. While dysfluency measures after therapy were similar for both groups, personal perceptions of fluency among the carrier group were weaker. The results of the study are published in the 2019 July/August issue of Journal of Communications Disorders.

HCRI has treated thousands of stuttering cases that range from mild to severe.
HCRI’s specially trained clinicians have treated thousands of stuttering cases that range from mild to severe.

For this research, HCRI President Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D. and his team worked in collaboration with Dennis Drayna Ph.D. of NIH’s National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD).

The two organizations have partnered for two decades on research to advance the scientific understanding of stuttering. HCRI was a member of the NIDCD team that discovered the genetic link to stuttering ten years ago.

HCRI stuttering therapy was used for the study because of the treatment’s quantitative, systematic methodology. In addition, HCRI clinicians have treated thousands of individuals who stutter with consistently positive results.

“At HCRI, we are in a strong position to facilitate genetics research because of our objective, physically based approach to therapy, as well as the large number of clients we have successfully treated,” Dr. Webster said.

HCRI research demonstrates that 93% of clients achieve normal levels of fluency by the end of their 12-day therapy. When evaluated two years post therapy, data indicates 75% maintain fluent speech. An additional 15% of individuals remain with improved fluency; however, they did not fall into the normal range.

Each group of stutterers was comprised of 51 individuals matched on age, gender and ethnicity. Speech samples before and after HCRI therapy were scored using detailed disfluency measures. Also, participants provided self-reported scores of their speech, based on perceived measures of struggle, avoidance and expectancy when speaking.

While therapy can be effective for mutant gene carriers, according to Dr. Webster, findings from this study provide a springboard for fine-tuning treatment when there is a genetic factor involved.

“We need to delve further into the physical details of speech, with emphasis on the carrier group,” Dr. Webster added. “Additional research will enable us to more precisely define the effects of therapy and may set the stage for customizing treatment for those individuals who carry mutant genes. And, we are working on that at HCRI right now.”

About Stuttering

Approximately 66 million people worldwide suffer from the effects of stuttering, with three million in the U.S, according to NIDCD. The condition is characterized by repeated or prolonged sounds, syllables, blocks and words that disrupt speech. Stuttering can impair social growth, educational attainment, and career potential.

About HCRI

HCRI was founded by Ronald L Webster, Ph.D. in 1972 to investigate stuttering through scientific discovery and treatment innovation. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, HCRI is a leader in stuttering research and scientifically derived therapy. More than 6,500 people from across the U.S. and 50 countries have come to HCRI for stuttering treatment. HCRI is located at 7851 Enon Drive, Roanoke, Va. 24019. To learn more, visit www.stuttering.org or contact HCRI at 855-236-7032 or info@stuttering.org.

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.

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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 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.