Alumni of the Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) stuttering therapy program, along with Roanoke-area runners, participated in the nonprofit center’s first 5K Race and 1-Mile Fun Walk – Stride to Cure Stuttering – on Saturday, April 30, 2016.
The event was held on the beautiful Roanoke River Greenway in Downtown Roanoke, Virginia. Stride to Cure Stuttering helped raise much-needed funds to support HCRI’s ongoing work in stuttering research and treatment innovation.
The Institute was founded in 1972 by Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D. to investigate stuttering and develop new therapy approaches for the difficult-to-treat speech disorder. Today, HCRI is a leader in science-based stuttering treatment and has helped thousands of people who stutter from across the U.S. and 50 countries.
Donations raised from Stride to Cure Stuttering will further HCRI’s important work of making life-changing stuttering therapy more accessible and continuing research to find a cure for stuttering.
The race director and organizer was Courtney Stackhouse who also serves as a stuttering therapy clinician at HCRI. Forty-two competitors ran in the inaugural race, along with numerous others who participated in the event’s 1-Mile Fun Walk to help HCRI.
Following are the racers who clocked the fastest times for the 5K run.
Scott Nickell spends his work days calling prospects, conducting face-to-face meetings, strategizing solutions with co-workers, and giving presentations to packed rooms of industry professionals.
As Business Development Manager for a leading distribution company, success depends on Scott’s ability to effectively communicate with decision makers and convey how his company can transform their operational systems into a competitive advantage.
His daily communication requirements are demanding even for the most eloquent and powerful speakers. Though, the gift of speech isn’t something Scott takes for granted – and it isn’t something that comes naturally or easily. He lives with a stuttering condition that surfaced in his youth.
In school, his stuttering hindered his ability to socialize and diminished his self-confidence. He couldn’t say certain words and struggled to communicate each day.
After trying traditional speech therapies with no success, Scott’s parents heard about the unique behavioral therapy offered at Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) in Roanoke, Virginia. They enrolled him in the intensive treatment program when he was 12 years old.
“My parents and I saw HCRI as the last shot. The ability to speak fluently meant everything to me and I was committed to giving 110 percent to the therapy program,” Scott recalled.
He found HCRI stuttering treatment unlike any other therapy experience. It was hard work and he was the youngest of 10 participants in his therapy group. Yet, HCRI clinicians provided tremendous support and guided Scott through each step in the treatment process.
According to HCRI President Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., HCRI clinicians work one-on-one with therapy participants and help them learn new, specifically defined ways to use speech muscles that enable the ability to speak fluently. Webster and his research team invented HCRI’s comprehensive behavioral therapy approach, which has been tested with thousands of people who stutter and continually refined through the years.
“Today, the use of advanced computer technology and real-time speech measurement during therapy at HCRI makes fluency acquisition even easier and more precise for participants,” Webster said. “In addition, our post-therapy clinical support and a comprehensive package of practice tools keep participants on track with fluency throughout their lives.”
HCRI research demonstrates that 93 percent of therapy participants achieve fluent speech at the conclusion of their treatment. When evaluated two years later, 75 percent of participants maintained their fluency.
By the end of his HCRI program, Scott spoke fluently for the first time in his life. When he returned home, people could not believe how well he spoke. It was exhilarating for the 12-year-old to talk like everyone else.
However, Scott is quick to point out that it is easy to fall back to old speaking habits without ongoing practice of the speech skills he learned during treatment. In fact, he practiced his HCRI fluency techniques every day for many years.
“When you are a stutterer, how you talk is always in the back of your mind,” he said. “Even to this day, I recall my HCRI fluency training and take advantage of HCRI’s online fluency-practice tools that are available to alumni.”
Scott believes his experience with HCRI at an early age changed his trajectory in life – from his educational achievement to his career success. “I talk every single day, every single hour, as part of my job. I love what I do. I would be in a completely different line of work if it hadn’t been for HCRI. I don’t know where I would be without fluent speech,” he added.
HCRI clinicians have treated nearly 7,000 people who stutter, aged 11 to 73, from 50 countries. Clients include students, broadcasters, athletes, teachers, engineers, doctors, military personnel, business professionals, police officers, actors, paramedics, and others from all walks of life. For more information about HCRI stuttering therapy, visit www.stuttering.org.
As a sought-after television series producer and filmmaker, Elan Dassani’s ability to effectually communicate with directors, actors, visual-effects artists, and staffers is paramount to his success.
On any given day, he may speak with up to a hundred people at a time. When he is not working on television shows, he scouts locations or pitches decision makers on using the many production and special-effects services of his company, Master Key.
Along with industry expertise, Dassani’s ability to speak persuasively is his most important asset. Yet, it is also among his greatest challenges because Dassani is a stutterer. Since he was a young child, his ability to speak fluidly and spontaneously was hindered by stuttering, which made it difficult even to say his name.
His condition produced involuntary interruptions in his flow of speech. Dassani experienced intermittent blocks, repetitions and prolongations of sounds and syllables, which made it difficult to carry on conversations. To fix his stutter, he tried different treatments that ranged from wearing an auditory feedback device to meeting with speech therapists. None produced lasting fluency.
While in college, he learned about the unique behavioral therapy offered at Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI), the same center that helped television broadcaster John Stossel overcome stuttering and catapult his career. Dassani decided to enroll and try HCRI’s stuttering therapy program.
“The program was challenging and markedly different than any other stuttering treatment I experienced,” Dassani said. “The techniques and skills I learned at HCRI helped me proactively manage my stuttering and speak fluently in everyday situations.”
According to HCRI Founder and President Ronald L. Webster, Ph.D., HCRI stuttering therapy takes hard work, commitment and ongoing practice for optimal, life-long results. Developed by Webster and his research team – and tested with thousands who stutter, the therapy program is systematic and quality-controlled. HCRI participants work intensively with specially trained clinicians to learn new speech behaviors that replace distorted contractions and muscle movements that cause stuttered speech. The new behaviors enable people to generate fluent speech at will.
For Dassani, the ability to speak fluently makes life and what he wants to accomplish “easier and better.” He experienced firsthand the transforming impact fluency can have on someone’s life – professionally and personally.
He also acknowledges the importance of practicing HCRI fluency techniques on a regular basis. Practicing the behaviors taught during therapy helps sustain fluent speech for the long-term. When Dassani attended HCRI’s program, he was young and had a lot of ambitions that took time away from practice. Fifteen years after therapy, he noticed his speech was starting to degrade. So to get his fluency on track, he attended HCRI therapy a second time.
Now, his fluency has returned to the high levels he desires. He is committed to ongoing practice and follow-up with HCRI clinicians. He is using apps to serve as practice reminders and queues to focus on his fluency.
“There is no cure for stuttering. Yet, research demonstrates that HCRI therapy can help the majority of people who stutter acquire the ability to speak fluently.” Webster explained. “Elan Dassani is an excellent example of how fluency can open up doors of opportunity and enable people to reach their full potential in life.”
Dassani added, “I want people to know that stuttering is not insurmountable. There were times when I was frustrated and down in the dumps about my stuttering. Yet, you can get past it with the right treatment and focus,” he concluded.
HCRI clinicians have treated more than 6,400 people, between the ages of 11 and 73, from across the U.S. and 50 countries. For more information about Virginia-based HCRI, visit www.stuttering.org.
Attorney and mountain climber Leigh P. Bennett of Edmonds, Washington has stuttered since he uttered his first sentence. Yet, he considers himself lucky to have dealt with the challenge of stuttering at such a young age.
During school and into adult life, Leigh regularly faced difficult situations and frustration because of the way he talked. Though, he believes his speech condition served as the impetus to develop a can-do attitude, courage, and emotional strength early in life. These traits have stayed with him through the years, enabling him to thrive professionally and personally.
“My stuttering was ever-present for as long as I can remember. While it got in the way whenever I spoke, I was determined to stay positive and become stronger because of it,” Leigh said.
Stuttering affects three million people in the U.S. and 66 million worldwide, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Stuttering ranges in severity and often hampers educational and career aspirations, inhibits social growth, and serves as a barrier to people reaching their full potential in life.
From Stuttering to Fluency
Leigh’s journey to fluency included a gamut of unsuccessful treatment attempts that included speech therapy in elementary school, unproductive sessions with a psychologist, and visits to a speech clinic once every two weeks during high school. None of these efforts produced results.
After high school, Leigh went to college and also became an avid mountain climber and windsurfer. His outdoor activities required significant mental focus, training, self-control, and self-reliance. He learned how to manage his fear and maintain a sense of calm, as he scaled summits, traversed rough waters, and achieved each new goal he set for himself.
At the time, he didn’t consider that these carefully honed skills would help him on the path to fluency.
Upon graduation, Leigh traveled the world and grew even more self-assured. He also ran his own mountaineering school. Yet, he knew he needed to bring his stuttering under control to pursue the next chapter in his life.
Then, he learned about the unique behavioral stuttering therapy provided by Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI – www.stuttering.org) in Roanoke, Virginia. He was drawn to HCRI’s physically based approach, scientifically derived methodology and intensity of therapy. The treatment strategy made sense to him and he enrolled in the stuttering therapy program.
HCRI Therapy Participation
At HCRI, Leigh worked one-on-one with specially trained clinicians and systematically learned how to replace faulty muscle behaviors that cause stuttering with new speech motor skills that enable fluency. His can-do attitude, strong self-reliance, and ability to adapt – which were skills he cultivated through his outdoor sports and independent travels – served him well in achieving success during therapy.
According to HCRI Founder and President Dr. Ron Webster, “Our physically based therapy takes hard work, focus and total commitment to the process. Clients who give 110 percent leave with the knowledge and techniques they need to take control of their stuttering and remain fluent for life.”
Research shows that 93 percent of HCRI therapy program participants achieve fluency by the end of treatment. Follow-up studies reveal 75 percent retain fluency for the long term. “Our results are in stark contrast to other speech therapy approaches that work in only 25 percent of cases,” Webster noted.
New Opportunities through Fluency
After attending HCRI, Leigh was able to manage his stuttering for the first time in his life. “HCRI treatment provided me with the tools I needed to speak fluently,” Leigh explained. “When I would start stuttering in stressful situations, I knew just what I needed to do to regulate my speech.”
With his newly acquired fluency, Leigh decided to go to law school, become an attorney in Edmonds, and follow in his father’s respected footsteps. Today, Leigh has a busy law practice with his brother, Peter W. Bennett, and is carrying on his father’s legacy at his Bennett and Bennett law firm. He specializes in estate planning, elder law, trusts, Medicaid planning, real estate law, and other related legal services. Leigh is a member of the Washington State Bar Association, board member of the Hubbard Family Foundation, member of the Everett Mountaineers, and a ski instructor.
He believes that success requires an individual to proactively take control of his or her life and “make things happen.” Leigh attributes his ability to overcome stuttering to having the right attitude, learning from his experiences, and getting the right stuttering treatment.
Hollins Communications Research Institute (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 innovative, scientifically based therapy approaches. HCRI clinicians have treated more than 6,500 individuals from across the U.S. and 50 countries. 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 (toll-free) or email@example.com.
About Bennett and Bennett
The Bennett and Bennett partnership was founded in 1988 by brothers Leigh P. Bennett and Peter W. Bennett in Edmonds, Washington, The goal of the law firm is to guide clients successfully through the often complex processes of estate planning, probate, trusts, elder law, real estate law, and related legal matters – and to make the process educational, practical, and cost effective. Bennett and Bennett is located at 400 Dayton, Suite A, Edmonds, Wash. 98020. For more information, visit www.edmondslaw.com, call 425-776-0139, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.