THE RETIRED MECHANICAL ENGINEER
My case as a stutterer is unique in that I did nothing to correct it until
I was seventy-four years of age. I stuttered mildly as a boy, but managed
to get by without too much trouble. But after college, when I entered the
business world, the situation worsened and I had my troubles. I attempted
to speak freely using human willpower, but the results were disastrous.
I developed ways of getting by. I often coughed to get started; I avoided
certain words, especially those starting with the letter s, and this resulted
in very odd sentence structure. Sometimes my telephone conversations were
most embarrassing. I did a very bad job of introducing others, asking for
directions, and ordering in restaurants. At times I wanted to run and hide.
But I didn't. I struggled on, learning to live with a condition which
was so abnormal. I often thought of seeking some sort of therapy but never
did. Now I am just satisfied that I didn't, because, having talked recently
with other stutterers who tried various curative systems, I found that
none of them were helpful.
I had a fairly successful business career in spite of my handicap, although
I surely could have done better had my speech been normal.
Then, about twelve months ago I read an article on stuttering, which
described briefly the Air Flow Technique. This intrigued me, and I arranged
to join an NCS workshop in Los Angeles.
After a revealing two days at the workshop, there began the (sometimes
arduous) work of mastering the technique under any circumstance that can
befall a speaker. Frankly, I had no idea a wrong habit of speaking could
be so stubborn. It seems so easy to master the technique under controlled
conditions, but oh how easy it is to forget and return to the old habit.
With the help of the weekly tapes reviewed by the National Center for Stuttering
staff worker (bless her!), I am making slow but steady progress, and daily
getting closer to the goal of complete correction of the old difficulty.
Proofs of progress are many. The automatic use of the technique is becoming
stronger and stronger. Words starting with s give me practically no trouble.
I use the telephone freely. I make introductions with ease. I order in
restaurants for myself and others. I ask directions without difficulty.
Speaking in public is becoming easier. I have given talks before more than
a hundred people, and while not yet perfect, I have exhibited a freedom
I never had before. I have not the slightest doubt my continued practice
will bring about the elimination of the problem that plagued me so long.
To say that I am grateful is a complete understatement. When I recall
the handicap I once had and note the freedom I now have, it seems like
a miracle. And it is all so simple. It promises a wonderful boon to countless
individuals who are now in bondage to this awful affliction.
Finally I want to express my deep appreciation for the dedication of
the National Center for Stuttering staff in their wonderful work of helping
stutterers. One feels the sincerity of their work and is aware of their
strong desire to help through patience, encouragement, and scolding when
necessary. They deserve strong praise.
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