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Stuttering – A Listener's Guide - 3

Back in Toronto, I made many presentations. Every time I would be making a fluent presentation to a large audience, however, a voice inside me would say: “You’re not supposed to be able to do this. You’re supposed to be falling flat on your face.” That voice really bothered me.

At first I thought I should get some psychotherapy. But then I realized that what I needed to do was to compare notes with other people who stutter. That led me to start a local self-help group in Toronto. Our first meeting was in September 1988, at the North York Central Library.

A year later, a speech therapist who stutters, Tony Churchill of Mississauga, spoke at one of our meetings. At that meeting, I asked him about the self-talk that was bothering me each time I made a speech. Tony Churchill told me that this inner voice was telling me that I needed to adjust to some changes that had occurred in my life. After that, the inner voice never bothered me again.

My involvement with a local Toronto group led me to become active in the stuttering community. I was a co-founder of the Canadian Stuttering Association in 1991, of the Estonian Stuttering Association in 1993, and of the International Stuttering Association in 1995. In 1995, I switched from teaching special education classes in Toronto, and began teaching regular classes at a school in Mississauga.

What has worked for me will not work for all people who stutter.  About 80 percent of stutterers can achieve lasting benefit from the kind of speech therapy that I encountered. Some people who stutter, about 20 percent, for reasons having to do with how their brains are wired for speech production, are not able to attain the same lasting benefit. In that case, people who stutter can benefit from a ‘stuttering modification’ approach whereby they learn to reduce the severity of their stuttering.

The Canadian Stuttering Association is a registered, incorporated, non-profit organization. We offer an impartial forum for the sharing of information about stuttering. We do not endorse or reject any particular way of dealing with stuttering, except in cases where someone alleges that they have a sure-fire ‘cure’ for stuttering. As a rule, there is no cure for stuttering.

Many stutterers can learn to control their stuttering, so it does not interfere with effective communication. If we are able to achieve control over our stuttering, it means that we are able to be more productive and reach our full potential. The earlier a person gets treatment, the better. Not getting any treatment at all is also an option.

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