TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY:
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Just about everyone knows someone who stutters. Perhaps it's the young
man at the gas station, or the boy who delivers the newspaper, or the English
teacher you had in high school. Do you remember how you felt when you saw
and heard them stutter? Perhaps you wanted to help. And perhaps you did
by providing the word they were so desperately struggling to say.
You've always wished that someone had told you how to react when you
met someone who stuttered. But no one did. Like many, you thought it was
"psychological", or that "their thoughts were running faster than their
words." Whatever it was, you knew one thing for sure: it made you uncomfortable
to be with them.
Like the rest of us, you tried to ignore it. You maintained eye contact
and kept an even expression on your face. Pretending it wasn't there seemed
to be the only course of action. After all, what could you say or do to
Imagine the following scene. A stutterer is talking to you. He is under
stress, tensing, and blocking severely while he is pretending nothing's
wrong. You, the listener are also stressed, tense and also pretending nothing's
wrong. Neither you or he say anything; both of you suffer as you remain
locked in a socially-proscribed vice of denial.
Imagine now a different scene, a make-believe world. In this world there
is a law which dictates that if you see someone stuttering, you are required
to immediately go up to the person and say, "Just a minute now, breathe
in, let some air out passively, and slow the first word." In other words,
in this make-believe world everyone knows about the locking of the vocal
cords, everyone knows about a suitable means for preventing the locking,
and everyone further knows that instead of saying nothing when you see
someone stutter, you are required by law to immediately go up to the person
and give what is generally recognized to be the right correcting information.
And furthermore, everyone who stutters knows, from the time they are children,
every time they stutter everyone within earshot with come up to them and
give the right correcting information. How much stuttering would there
be? Not very much!
What can the President of the United States say in thirty seconds that
can dramatically improve the lives of millions of Americans with cancer,
arthritis, colitis? Nothing. But if the President of the United States
gave the right correcting information for stuttering in thirty seconds,
suddenly 2.6 million Americans would find their lives much improved.
Well, that is not about to happen. But we can do the next best thing.
We can let people who stutter know that there has been a revolution in
the understanding and treatment of stuttering. Most stutterers aren't aware
of the advances, they've given up, they had therapies years ago which didn't
work, they've joined the conspiracy of denial.
How do you make them aware of these advances? It might be awkward for
you to go up to them and just start talking about their problem. If this
is the case you can contact The National Center for Stuttering and we'll
send this book or a packet of free information be sent to the person who
On numerous occasions I have seen patients come to my office for evaluation
carrying yellowed newspaper clipping about the Center - sent to them years
earlier by an interested friend or relative - and acted only upon now in
a moment of personal crisis. The fact that the paper was kept and not thrown
away, carried on their person continuously in a wallet or purse, suggests
that the underlying desire to solve the problem is always there.
One patient told me, when asked why she waited so long to receive treatment,
"Dr. I've had so many disappointments in the past, I was afraid to hope."
Help rekindle that hope by sharing this book with someone who stutters.
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