Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The King's Speech and Mine-postscript

The Stuttering Foundation of America has gained a lot of traction with the movie, The King's Speech, and justifiably so. They are a wonderful organization focusing attention on a misunderstood and sometimes debilitating affliction. They raise awareness and urge those affected to seek help... any help is better than doing nothing.

As I wrote in the post, "The King's Speech and Mine (2/2011), I was a severe stutterer for the first 23 years of my life. I was fortunate enough to learn about and attend the Fluency Shaping Program at Hollins College, in Roanoke, Virginia. I will never say I was cured as no one is truly cured of stuttering, but when I arrived at the program, I was diagnosed as 33% fluent (which meant I couldn't be understood 2/3 of the time I spoke). When I left, I was 99% fluent. My life had changed. Literally.

The SFA ran a contest last month: What, if anything, are you doing differently since seeing "The King's Speech"?

This was my entry...

Let's see... I contacted some old acquaintances (pre-fluency) and, among other things, thanked them for their patience, friendship and understanding when I was at my worst, speech-wise. I put a call into Jane Fraser (Executive Director of SFA), who I have gotten to "know" over the years, but have never had the pleasure of actually meeting. I again offered my "pro-bono" services-- in the past, I have written and designed some ads for the SFA. I called Hollins to try to get in touch with some of the staff people who helped transform my life. And finally, I sat in with a monthly NSA support group meeting in Portland, Oregon and showed the attendees my "before and after" video from Hollins. For the most part, the people who were there were moderate stutterers--there was one man who was quite severe. What concerned me a bit is that, for the most part, the consensus among them was that I am "special" (because my speech improved so dramatically). I don't consider myself "special." I just took the Hollins Fluency Shaping Program as seriously as I could.

It's been over 38 years and I am, for all intents and purposes, fluent. As I have discussed with Jane, there are those who are almost contemptuous of the Hollins program and question their high success rate. I have always thought, if I can do it, anyone can do it. I also truly believe the line I wrote for one of the FSA ads: "There are many proven, effective ways to reduce stuttering. Doing nothing is not one of them."

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