Stuttering
What it is and isn’t
For Emergency Services Personnel

By Bobby L. Childers II
With support by Russ Hicks (Dallas, Texas)
© 2000  All Rights Reserved
Total Time: 42 Minutes 14 Seconds (Self timed)

 

Slide 01:

0:58

Hi, my name is Bobby Childers and I will be your guide for the next 14 days or so while I stutter my way through this presentation.  I will be practicing my therapy techniques during this, so if I sound a little strange at times that is why.  Stuttering can be a life long experience that affects every portion of a person’s life.  Teenager and adult stutterers will be the main ones that you, the Emergency Services Personnel will have to deal with in your day-to-day duties.  So that is what I will be focusing on during this presentation. 

Slide 02:

0:29

Before I get to far, I want to thank the people who gave me enormous amounts of assistance, guidance, ideas and support in this project.  Without their help I would have never “came out of the closet” so to speak with my stuttering.  They have taught me that I am just as valuable a person as the next person, fluent or not. 

Slide 03:

1:12

New Mexico State University: Linda Leeper, Ph.D. CCC-SLP (faculty supervisor for my student clinicians), Betty J. Burlingame, Ed.S., CCC-SLP (Speech and Hearing Center Coordinator), Katie Cummins, B.A., Graduate Student Clinician, Robyn Bogard, B.A., Graduate Student Clinician

Minnesota State University-Mankato: Judith Kuster, M.S. CCC-SLP

University of South Alabama: Stephen Hood, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

National Stuttering Association: Russ Hicks, Dallas, Texas

Karen Lewis, R.N.

I have sent hundreds of emails back and forth over the last few weeks fine tuning this presentation.  I sure am glad that Al Gore “fathered” the Internet because I have spent many hours burning it up for this.  

Slide 04:

1:10

Special Note:  

I have been a Person Who Stutters (the politically correct statement for a stutterer) for a very long, long time.  I am now 43 years old, and began stuttering when I was around 5, so I’m rather good at doing it.  In 1979, I took the Emergency Medical Technician course and began working as a volunteer EMT in my hometown in the rural Southwest.   

I worked as a volunteer EMT, firefighter, and Search and Rescue Team member for 20 years until I decided to “retire”.  During my tenure as all of this, I discovered many different attitudes towards my speech by hundreds of law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMT’s, doctors, nurses, etc., including my own widely varied attitudes.   

Since I have “worked” both sides of the proverbial street so to speak, I feel uniquely qualified to talk with Emergency Services Personnel about the various aspects of stuttering.  

Slide 05:

0:24

The politically correct manner of referring to someone who stutters is a PWS for a Person Who Stutters.  Many PWS’s prefer being called a stutterer (I personally do), but others don’t, so to appease the masses, I will refer to PWS for this presentation. 

Slide 06:

0:20

How many of you in this room have ever talked with or heard someone who stuttered?  Or whom you think might have stuttered?  Raise those hands high. This is a change of pace, someone telling police officers to raise their hands over their heads. 

Slide 07:

0:18

If you have talked with someone who stuttered, or heard someone who stuttered, what feelings, thoughts, and emotions did it generate in you?  Be totally honest with yourself, you don’t have tell anyone just yet. 

Slide 08:

0:19

When you heard the person who stuttered, did you feel comfortable or not?  Many people will feel very uncomfortable listening to someone stutter, especially if they think the people are uncomfortable themselves. 

Slide 09:

0:56

These are some statistics that will probably surprise you, more so than they surprised me.  1% of the world population stutters, there are people that stutter in every country on earth.  4 out of 5 PWS are men, 1 out of 5 are women.   

In the United State alone, there are over 3 million people who stutter to some degree.  It ranges from mild or occasionally to the severe.

There is a study that has been out for quite some time that states a PWS is likely to have an IQ of 11 points higher than a Non-PWS.  While this may or may not be true, to someone like me, I prefer to believe it. 

Slide 10:

1:44

Everybody has feelings and attitudes about themselves.  The PWS is no different in this aspect; we just tend to dwell on certain ones more frequently because of a societal attitude towards stuttering in general.  This is especially true for those PWS who have not been in therapy in a number of years (like myself) or who have never had therapy at all. 

Some of the major feelings and Emotions we feel are: Frustration, Anxiety, Nervousness, Embarrassment, Denial, Fear, Shame, and Anger.  All of this pertains to our inability to converse in what is considered a “normal” manner of speaking to other people.   

The attitudes we experience are just as damaging to our self-esteem.  We get told or hear from society that Stuttering is bad, Stuttering is ugly, Stuttering is wrong, Stutterers are worthless, Stutterers are defective, and Stuttering should be avoided. 

Attitudes like this tend to give the PWS a complex about him/herself.  We may go to great extents to prove society wrong by going overboard with any natural talents or skills we may possess. Or we may just withdraw into ourselves and not talk to people. While the former may result in great strides for mankind, the latter just destroys it.  

Slide 11:

Every PWS needs to decide for him/herself whether or not they want to receive therapy.  During my original therapy in the early 1960’s, speech therapy was dismal at best in my area of the country.  I quit in 1969, and didn’t try again until around 1973.  It hadn’t changed much it was still dismal.  I didn’t attempt to get therapy again until I came to New Mexico State University (Las Cruces) in the Fall of 1999.  There I got into a speech therapy program that is helping my speech.  My family supports my therapy and wants me to improve.  Many people don’t have the support structure that I have in place, therapy only leaves them frustrated and angrier than when they first started.  All PWS’s will continue to stutter throughout their lives, the goal should never be “perfect fluency” but reduced stuttering. 

Slide 12:

1:52

I am currently in speech therapy at New Mexico State University with two excellent graduate student clinicians who care about their clients, and want to help teach their clients to become more fluent.  It has totally changed my life in the few short months that I have been in therapy.  Last year at this time, I would have never considered doing anything of this sort, but therapy has taught me that I can do pretty much what I want to do. 

Therapy has given me feelings about my speech that I never thought I could have.  It gave me relief in the fact that neither my parents nor I caused my stuttering, more on that later.  I found a sense of camaraderie in that I discovered that there is a whole world of people out there who stutter just as bad or worse than I do.  There are organizations like the National Stuttering Association and the Stuttering Foundation of America dedicated to helping the PWS achieve goals we never dreamed possible. 

Therapy completely modified my attitudes towards my speech.  It taught me that stuttering is not bad, it taught me to accept my speech as an integral part of my personality no matter how weird that may be.  My family calls me the “Computer Geek” because I could live with my computer and never leave it.  When it crashes, I spend hours and hours fixing it. 

Therapy also taught me that I am just as good as the next person.  I can do any job I set my mind too, (with maybe the exception of dispatching…. I don’t like telephones). 

Slide 13:

0:52

 

Your attitudes as an Emergency Services Person will vary widely.  Some of the more common ones are: Confusion (what is wrong with this person?), Frustration (how long is this going to take?), Suspicion (what has this person done to talk this badly…this is very common with police officers…it’s their job), Tension (you combine Confusion, Frustration and Suspicion and you get extreme Tension), Uncomfortable (you aren’t sure how to deal with this situation). 

I’m not saying that any of these attitudes are wrong by any means.  I just saying that this is what the PWS deals with on a daily basis from all types of occupations, not just yours. 

Slide 14:

1:15

A PWS will do almost anything to avoid stuttering.  Which in itself can cause us to have numerous problems with people that we deal with on a day-to-day basis.   

Some of the avoidance techniques we use are: Changing words from feared or known stuttering words to ones that don’t cause stuttering.  The word we change to may or may not have the same impact, but at least we don’t stutter through it.  We may not talk in situations where stuttering may occur.  This is especially true in high stress situations, and talking with police officers or medical personnel is a high stress situation for the majority of us.  We may not make eye contact with the person we are talking to.  This is an immediate sign of guilt for many people, especially parents.  We learn as children that if we don’t look our parents in the eye, they suspect we did something we shouldn’t have (at least mine did…sometimes they were right).  For the PWS it’s not a sign of guilt, its more a sign of shame or embarrassment.  

Slide 15:

0:53

Dispatchers have special problems in dealing with the PWS.  When I worked ambulance/fire/search and rescue, I know the local dispatchers cringed every time I got on the radio, or at least I cringed for them.  I didn’t do much better trying to talk over the telephone either. 

Telephones are a feared item in the PWS’s life.  In my case, its because I can’t see the person I’m talking too, and get visual feedback to their response on my stuttering.  When the PWS talks on the phone, it may cause them to have numerous pauses, and blocks.  They may start the conversation with rather “odd” sounds to help them get started.  As hard as it may sound, give the PWS a little time to start talking before you give up. 

Slide 16:

0:39

Signs for the dispatcher that the person on the other end of the phone is a PWS are fairly simple.  You will probably hear repetition of sounds or syllables like “Th-Th-Th-This is…”, sound prolongations like “ah……ah…..ah….ah”, filler words like “well, ah, yea, you know”, interjections like “uhs, ums”, or just plain silence as some PWS stutter silently.  Nothing comes out at first. 

Slide 17:

1:19

I could always tell when a new dispatcher was on the job because when I would call in to the Emergency Center, they would tell me to “hurry up”.  While I didn’t blame them for doing this, it just made my speech that much worse.  Telling a PWS to hurry up or similar is one of the worst things you can do.  I can pretty much guarantee that it will cause us to lock down and not get anything out.  I can’t tell you how many times, I just hung the phone up because I couldn’t say anything. 

A few of the long time dispatchers knew me, and when I would call in for what ever reason they would wait for me to start talking.  I used to work for the local community college and was in charge of the alarm system, so when it went off during the daytime hours, I would call in to say it was a mistake.  As soon as I began trying to talk, they would say “hi Bobby, just take your time”.  That always made me feel less tension immediately, and I could begin to talk somewhat.  I still had problems of course, but not as bad. 

Slide 18:

1:36

Having been an EMT/Firefighter I understand rather well the stress that accompanies this type of job.  During the training, you are taught to get in there and get done as fast as possible because someone’s life may be at stake. 

While this works for the fluent person, when you are talking with a PWS it is the worst thing you can do.  I’ve had people tell me to calm down, slow my speech down, pretty much everything under the sun.  Nothing works, it only serves to make me mad and makes my speech worse.   

When we are involved in an event that requires EMS/Fire, we are going to be excited just like every other person on earth (human nature).  If the situation is that severe that my speech will cause the injured person to die, I can say with a fair amount of certainty, that I will be fluent until after the crisis is over.  Then I won’t be able to say the word “a”. 

If you are in charge of a scene, and the person doing the reporting is a PWS, either let someone else talk to the Reporting Party while you work on the patient or you do it yourself and let your partner take care of the patient.  In either case, give us time to tell you what we know, it may help out. 

Slide 19:

1:08

Medical science still hasn’t figured out exactly what causes stuttering.  We do know that stuttering runs in family lines.  70% of people who stutter have someone in their immediate or extended family that stutters.  Brain injuries from accidents or illness seem to be able to cause stuttering, but it does not occur every time.  So that is not a medical fact, it seems to be a coincidence at this time. 

No one in my family dating back 8 generations stutters, so there is no telling where I got my stuttering from.  I did fall out of a tree when the summer I turned 5 years old, the stuttering began a few months later.  Did falling out of the tree cause the stuttering?  No doctor has been able to tell me one-way or the other.  They used to tell my parents that I would grow out of it, but at this stage in my life, I don’t think I will grow out of stuttering. 

Slide 20:

1:07

Now that we have looked at possible (repeat possible) causes, let’s look at what is not a cause.  Alcohol abuse: just because a person is an alcoholic doesn’t mean they will stutter.  My mother, who died a few years ago, was a chronic alcoholic, and she never stuttered, not even when she was drinking.  Drug abuse: this may cause lots of different side effects, but stuttering does not appear to be one of them.  Guilt: people seem to think that when someone stutters that they are guilty of something.  I may be guilty of telling really bad blonde jokes, or harassing my children (its my job as a father), or harassing the useless cat that lives in my house.  But other than that, I am a fairly law abiding citizen (I don’t count speeding).  99.9% of all PWS are also law abiding with the exception of the occasional traffic ticket; so don’t assume that just because we stutter we did something we shouldn’t have. 

Slide 21:

1:23

I don’t know of many people who don’t get stressed out when they have to talk with an authority figure.  Being a PWS just makes a bad situation that much worse.  We get stressed out just thinking about having to talk with the average person, let alone an authority figure. 

Police Officers: sitting in your car waiting for the officer to get out of his/her car and walk up to you (why does it always take them 4 years to get there?).  This is a nerve-racking experience for even the most fluent of people.  You can see the shiny, metal bracelets sitting in their pouch, the pistol hanging on the belt as it moves closer and closer to you.  All combined it makes the PWS have a very difficult time saying “What did I do, Officer?” (Standard response right?)  We (I) get hung up on the “Wh-Wh-Wh-Wh-What” and things go to pot from that point. 

Medical Personnel: Even though I was an EMT-Intermediate for a number of years, I still have an aversion to needles.  I don’t care what anyone says, needles hurt.  Pain tends to make some PWS (including me) become more fluent, but watching that IV needle or the injection move towards my body causes a different kind of pain that makes my speech deteriorate. 

Slide 22:

1:17

More authority figures to deal with for the PWS.

Parents:  Most PWS have a difficult time talking with their parents, especially fathers.  Fathers are the ultimate authority figure in a child’s life, as it seems to the child that the father controls the household. (Since I now have children I have since learned this is a myth perpetrated by women…they want the men to think they are in control)  This myth even though it does burst with time, tends to hang on throughout the child’s life, including adult life. 

Principals, Professors (college), and Teachers:  Throughout my public school years, I tried to avoid talking with teachers and especially principals because I knew I would have extreme difficulty.  Now that I’m in college, I have to deal with Professors who have Ph.D.’s.  All of these have your grades in the palms of their hands so to speak, so the PWS has twice the difficulty in trying to talk with them. 

Supervisors in the workplace: The typical boss controls when you get vacations, raises, promotions, etc.  Talking with your boss can be a very stressful situation, and of course the speech goes right out the door. 

Slide 23:

1:48

A short time ago, I was driving down the street in the town I’m now living at while I go to college when I looked into the rear view mirror and saw those really ugly “red and blue” flashing lights.  Knowing good and well that I hadn’t done anything to deserve such treatment (I was only going about 10-15 miles an hour over the speed limit), I pulled over expecting the police car to continue on.   

Well the officer pulled in right behind me and took the usual 4 days to get out of his car and walk up to my window.  The entire 4 days it took for him to get there, I had all sorts of thoughts running through my head as to what and how I would say anything.  I had just left my speech therapy session, so I decided to practice my vowel prolongation and slower rate of speech so I could at least be semi fluent. 

When he finally got to the window of my truck, I began trying to ask what I had done in my most innocent voice (I knew good and well what I had done, but I had to try).  I had problems asking what I had done, and couldn’t even say “Sir” (why is it, when someone gets stopped, they tend to say Sir and Ma’am even though the officer is the same age as their children…my oldest is 23, the officer was about the same age.)  The officer looked at me rather odd, and asked me how much I had to drink that morning (it was 10:00 in the morning).  Well being in a state of panic because I couldn’t talk, I told him about 16 ounces…of Dr. Pepper, but I forgot to mention it was Dr. Pepper.   

Slide 24:

1:14

Well the officer returned to his vehicle and sat there with his microphone in his hand for months.  Then three other police cars showed up and completely surrounded my truck and all four officers came up to me and told me to get out of the truck. 

I had to go through the standard field sobriety tests of walking a straight line, touching the fingers to the nose, etc.  I passed all of the tests with flying colors, but I kept asking the officers to call a supervisor because I stuttered and I was just practicing my speech techniques.  Finally one of the “new” officers that showed up decided to call his Lieutenant to the scene.   

I explained to the Lieutenant about my speech and what I was doing to improve it.  I showed him my 32-ounce cup of Dr. Pepper (straight…no ice even).  He asked me if I tried to explain to the original officer about my speech and I told him that I did, but the officer either didn’t understand what I was talking about, or didn’t want to understand. 

Slide 25:

1:20

The Lieutenant went back to the field officers and told them that I hadn’t been drinking alcohol.  He did tell them that I was guilty of speeding in the truck, and probably should get a ticket for speeding while I was trying to talk…slowing my speech rate down went out the door really quick, but since that wasn’t a traffic offense, just to cite me for the traffic speeding. 

While this may seem to be a funny story, it happens all the time with the PWS and law enforcement.  The police officer is just trying to get his/her job done to the best of his/her ability when they get a PWS who “can’t talk” or won’t talk.  Their training alerts them to think that we are either hiding something or we have been drinking.  While I’m not saying this can’t be the scenario, most of the time it’s not. 

In case you are thinking that I don’t like the police, don’t.  I have a great respect for law enforcement; I couldn’t (wouldn’t) do their job.  I really like having police officers around, except of course when I’m speeding down the road.  I’m just asking for a little slack when it comes to our speech. 

Slide 26:

2:32

Everyone who is alive has heard of the famous Mel Tillis.  The country-western singer who can sing with the best of them, but talks with an extreme stutter.  Well here are some other famous people who stutter, and I’ll bet that you didn’t know about the majority of them. 

Aristotle, Moses, Isaac Newton and Clara Barton: unless you are really old, you probably wouldn’t know about their stuttering without having read it somewhere. 

Winston Churchill, King George VI, Theodore Roosevelt and Nat King Cole: some of the more “experienced” people here may have seen them talk on TV and heard their stuttering.  While it wasn’t severe, it was enough that they considered themselves to be stutterers (PWS). 

Marilyn Monroe: Ah, the queen of all sex symbols.  The breathy talking she did was a technique she was taught by a singing coach to reduce her stuttering.  Besides who really cared if she could even talk, I just like looking at her. 

Bruce Willis, Sam Neill, Anthony Quinn and James Earl Jones: I heard Sam Neill talk one night on a talk show and he said that when he is in “character” for a movie or on a talk show, he doesn’t stutter near as bad if at all.  He also said that other actors who stutter do the same thing.  But when they are alone or with family or close friends, he stutters on every other word.  James Earl Jones is probably one of the most idolized people in the PWS cadre.  He is the voice of “Darth Vader” in the Star Wars trilogy, and it was such an authoritative voice.  He is also the most open about his stuttering to the general public. 

Bo Jackson: just goes to show you that even sports hero's can stutter 

John Stossel: of ABC 20/20 fame.  He says that his stuttering is mild, and the producers of 20/20 edit out his stuttering even though Barbara Walters wants it left in.  But this proves that a PWS can even be in national broadcasting. 

Slide 27:

0:34

As you can see from the previous slide, the PWS community is a far reaching and wide ranging group of people.  We have philosophers, Kings, scientists, sports figures, broadcasters, and actors/actresses who all stutter or stuttered. 

You can’t tell a PWS from the Non-PWS until we start trying to talk, and then it’s just because we are as smoothly fluent as you are. 

Slide 28:

0:24

Now is the time for all of you to learn something about stuttering.  I want all of you to take a pencil or pen and write you first and last name on a piece of paper.   

Now, I want to change hands.  Use the opposite hand to write your name again on the same piece of paper.   

Slide 29:

0:25

When you wrote your name with your normal writing hand, everything came out nice and smooth, right?  This is analogous to your speech, when you talk, it comes out smooth and fluent. 

When you changed hands and tried to write with the opposite hand, it looks ragged, with lots of starts, stops, and is not nearly as smooth. 

Slide 30:

0:29

Talking for the PWS is similar to you writing with the opposite hand.  You know how to write your name, we know how to talk.  But writing with the opposite hand where it comes out rough, ragged, jumpy is what is is like for a PWS to talk.   

We know all of the mechanics of talking, we can form each word in our brains, but our mouths seem to “have changed hands”.   

Slide 31:

0:41

Now it is time for a little history of stuttering.  Stuttering has been around for as long as mankind has been on earth, but the earliest recorded instances begin in ancient Greece/Rome. 

The ancient forefathers (including Aristotle) thought the tongue was knotted and had to be stretched out.  They would tie string to the PWS’s tongue, attach that to a large stone and make him/her walk around for weeks on end to “fix” the tongue.  I never did find out how they managed to eat during this type of treatment or what happened when the “doctor” found out it didn’t work. 

Slide 32:

0:44

During the Middle Ages, the doctors of the time believed in the concept of the four “humors” of air, fire, water, and earth.   

Stuttering was considered to be an imbalance of one of the humors in the PWS, so the treatment varied from doctor to doctor and location to location.  Some of the milder treatments included bloodletting (with leeches) and branding the tongue with hot irons. 

I did find a few instances where the tongue was branded and the person still stuttered so the “doctor” removed the tongue entirely.  I’ll bet it stopped the stuttering, plus all talking because now they were mute. 

Slide 33:

0:57

During the Renaissance era, people were supposed to be at the height of human achievement, and religion controlled most aspects of people’s lives. 

Speech was considered to be a gift from God (this occurred in all religions around the world…it seems to be fairly consistent theme) and Satan or the Demon God of that religion caused the stuttering. 

In the European countries, the PWS’s tongue was branded with a Christian cross to drive out Satan, in non-Christian countries, the tongue was often branded with the symbol of that religion or similar object 

Depending on the doctor’s religious beliefs, they would also try cutting the ligaments beneath the tongue.  This has the same basic effect as removing the tongue it makes the person mute. 

Slide 34:

0:36

During the 1700’s, stuttering was considered a “sin” under God.  This theme still runs through all other religions in the world. 

Christian sinners were made to read the Bible out loud to train their mouths to speak “properly” and to appease God for their sin.  Islamic sinners had to read the Qu’ran for the same basic purpose.  The Far Eastern religions had their own “reading” treatment that had the same reasoning behind it. 

Slide 35:

0:36

The treatments during the 1800’s were more in line with the Middle Ages.  PWS’s were made to eat or drink all kinds of potions and concoctions, some of which caused a painful death. 

Doctors and therapists would sometimes attempt to beat the stuttering out of the PWS that also caused death on occasion. 

In the event the PWS died during the course of treatment, it was considered that the PWS was too far-gone for “modern medical treatments”. 

Slide 36:

0:28

During the 1900’s the medical community thought that stuttering was caused by psychological abnormalities (ie: mental illness, etc). 

Sigmund Freud arrive on the medical/psychological scene with his infantile sexual fixation that deemed that stuttering was due to the PWS having a sexual fixation with her/her mother. 

Slide 37:

1:17

The current types of speech therapy techniques are much more humane towards the PWS.  

These include Fluency Shaping where the PWS learns to talk “easier”, using various techniques such as vowel prolongation (stretching out the vowels), easy onset (ease into a known stuttering word), light articulation (lightly touching the sounds or words that cause stuttering), and cancellation (backing up and repeating a word that was stuttered on). 

Stuttering modification: the PWS learns how to control breathing, and speech motor behaviors 

Modifying the environment: reducing the stress in workplace, home, etc. 

Modify feelings and attitudes: teach the PWS how to change the way they feel towards their speech. 

I am learning the Fluency Shaping and the Modifying Feelings and Attitudes techniques in my current therapy.  Because of this therapy, I am now doing this presentation today, so it does work. 

Slide 38:

0:40

When you are talking with a PWS or someone who you think may be a PWS, there are some things you can do that will help us talk to you. 

First: listen to what we are saying, not how we are saying it.  The content is much more important than the delivery. 

Second: maintain eye contact with us, even though we may not reciprocate.  We will look you in the eye from time to time, or all the time (depends on the PWS), but this will make us feel that you really want to hear what we are saying. 

Slide 39:

0:39

Do not finish our sentences for us.  This is very difficult for most people to do as they want to help us out because they see us struggling with the words. 

You can talk at a slightly slower rate of speech, because this will in a sense give us permission to do the same.  When you talk slightly slower, we don’t feel as rushed to finish, and we can slow our speech to a more fluent level. 

If you are talking with a young child who stutters, talking at a slower rate is especially important as they emulate adults.  

Slide 40:

0:40

Here I need to give you a little story as told to me by Russ Hick of Dallas Texas.  Russ was in a local restaurant ordering breakfast one morning and was having trouble talking.  “I told the waitress that I wanted some ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-bacon and some e-e-e-e-e-eg-eg-eg-eg-egg-egg-egg-eggs and some t-t-t-t-t-toa-toa-toa-toast and some orange j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-jell-o. 

Slide 41:

0:16

How many of you would have finished the sentence correctly?  Probably none.  This is what I mean by finishing our sentences for us, it doesn’t always work. 

Slide 42:

0:26

If you do finish our sentences for us, you will probably be right 95% of the time.  But what about that last 5%?  Being the types of jobs all of you hold, it might mean a life and death situation for someone.  Let us finish what we are saying, no matter how long it takes us. 

Slide 43:

0:50

Because it is so important to you and to the PWS, I’m going to repeat the things to do for the PWS. 

When you are talking with a PWS or someone who you think may be a PWS, there are some things you can do that will help us talk to you. 

First: listen to what we are saying, not how we are saying it.  The content is much more important than the delivery. 

Second: maintain eye contact with us, even though we may not reciprocate.  We will look you in the eye from time to time, or all the time (depends on the PWS), but this will make us feel that you really want to hear what we are saying. 

Slide 44:

0:40

Do not finish our sentences for us.  This is very difficult for most people to do as they want to help us out because they see us struggling with the words. 

You can talk at a slightly slower rate of speech, because this will in a sense give us permission to do the same.  When you talk slightly slower, we don’t feel as rushed to finish, and we can slow our speech to a more fluent level. 

If you are talking with a young child who stutters, talking at a slower rate is especially important as they emulate adults.  

Slide 45:

0:17

Now that you have sat through this 14-day presentation with a PWS, do you understand a little better as to what stuttering really is?  Do you have a better idea as to what stuttering is not? 

Slide 46:

1:13

Here are some stuttering websites if any of you want more detailed information on stuttering.  Judith Kuster of Minnesota State University-Mankato has one of the most informative sites on the Internet concerning stuttering there is. 

The National Stuttering Association is an organization dedicated to helping the PWS cope with stuttering in everyday life. 

The Stuttering Foundation of America is similar to the Minnesota State University site in that it has a little bit of everything concerning stuttering. 

Slide 47:

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This is my personal favorite cartoon character of all time.  I guess it’s because I identified with Porky and his stuttering.  By the way, he was born in 1935 and has stuttered from day one. 

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If you want to learn more about my stuttering and me you can visit my website at http://www.nettak.com/bobby.  I have numerous articles and links to other stuttering websites on my website.  

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