Helping the Medical Community Understand Stuttering
Unfortunately, the medical community does not understand stuttering. After helping a couple hundred PWS stop stuttering, I have been criticized and called a “charlatan”, “despicable liar”, etc., because I have “no medical training” and deigned to use the word “cure” in the title to my book. “Stuttering is an incurable disease”, or so some in the medical community (MC) maintains. I am also chastised for not providing “scientific research” or “peer-based research” to support my assertions and medical proofs that stuttering can be stopped. Why don’t I offer “scientific proof” that my methods work?
As I often concede, I have zero medical training, and I know ZERO about speech language pathology or its protagonists. However, as best I can determine, the medical community (again, MC), which I define as including speech language pathology and any other medically trained, speech related experts (SRE’s), know ZERO about stuttering. That is, an estimated 90% of SRE’s never stuttered and the remaining 10% still do stutter. Can one who has never imbibed alcohol or who is an unrecovered alcoholic ever understand, and/or evaluate, its cures?
Notwithstanding this insoluble conundrum, I have often been told, “Your methods are not backed by scientific research and, therefore, cannot be accepted.” I have been told that the ONLY way for my methods to be accepted by the MC and its SRE’s is to submit them to “scientific research”. I am further advised that this research would be administered by SRE’s, who would “test” my methods (likely in an academic/university setting) with 50, 100 or more stutterers, over time and at my expense. The problem with this is that the SRE’s do not understand stuttering, and it is NOT likely that they ever will, and, as such, they will never be able to understand, much less evaluate, grade or teach, my methods. Moreover, my goal is not to make the MC happy with my methods. My goal is to help PWS stop stuttering.
Unlike the MC and SRE’s, I did stutter, and I do know a great deal about stuttering. I know it as a stutterer AND as one who has given well over 5,000 coaching sessions to people who stutter (PWS) in the past five years alone plus many decades of helping PWS here and there. I know stutterers and I know stuttering. I can say with impunity that over 90% of those with whom I have worked extensively (defined as 8 or more Skypes) HAVE stopped stuttering, and less than 5% have relapsed. (Those who abandon our methods cold after beating it, as some do, can relapse, just as you can’t continue to play golf well if you abandon what you have learned. Also, unconquered fears sometimes cause TEMPORARY relapses that we easily subdue. The war against fear is our second battle, but we do wage and win it.)
Can today’s SRE’s evaluate my methods? I think not. Why? One should not evaluate or teach a sport that one has never played or that one plays abominably. Reading a rule-book or guide-book on the sport, however efficaciously written, will not supplant the need to EXPERIENCE AND MASTER the sport BEFORE deigning to evaluate and/or teach it. The blind cannot “see” for the blind. As to stuttering, the MC is blind.
Equally saliently, stuttering is a language. One cannot teach a language if one has never learned, spoken or written that language. The ONLY SRE’s that would be qualified to perform “research” (to prove or disprove my methods) are those who have stuttered significantly and have stopped their own stuttering and taught themselves to love to speak – as have I and a growing number of my students – over 200, which isn’t a small number for one person to “coach” to fluency, especially in such a de minimis, five-year span.
No two PWS are identical nor are any two stuttering-patterns identical. We “fish” among my methods for the best combination for that INDIVIDUAL stutterer. My methods have been proven to work in hundreds of cases that we have witnessed (and surely countless more that we have not). An increasing number of PWS will make my methods work without help from ANYONE, and they surely have already and will continue to be fluent without being recorded by anyone. Indeed, I receive emails from readers asserting full cures by reading the book alone. Still other PWS will need help, coaching.
The idiosyncrasies of each case mandate which methods be used, and often in varied ways, to quell the stuttering. There well may be other methods that work; I certainly hope so. I support all methods that are legal and moral. Consider, for examples, those of John Harrison and Ruth Mead (both EX-stutterers), which are discussed in this book. In all events, the teacher needs to have an INSTINCT to sense which methods to suggest and quite how to best apply them. Coaching any methods is a creative process through which the coach constantly learns and improves the methods and their application.
The methods that I have developed and explained in this book are fluid. That is, if allowed to do so, they will adapt themselves to fill whatever speech-holes exist, but no two stutterers will use my methods in exactly the same way. To evaluate the PWS’ problem and suggest which methods, the EVALUATOR must understand stuttering and have succeeded in using the methods him/herself.
Coaches cure no one. PWS cure themselves. Coaches teach; players play. Coaches, teachers, counselors do not “play” any game for the players. Each player will use what he/she is taught as it best suits him/her. Some players/students will not try sufficiently to master whatever their level of stuttering; others will master the most severe stuttering. Not everyone who takes up golf becomes a competent golfer, and not everyone who tries any methods will master them.
In sum, I do not believe that the MC or its SRE’s (as they currently exist) will ever be able to properly “test” our methods. (I call them “our methods”, as they are now being improved by my students.)
Before I leave this topic of “scientific research”, I must add this: I am indebted to Paul Brocklehurst Ph.D., who wrote the Foreword to the Third Edition of this book and Matt O’Malley, an SLP-A and a co-creator of Facebook’s “Stuttering Community” (who has kindly defended me and the efficacy of my methods when same have been attacked as “not backed by scientific research”. Paul and Matt explained to me a bit about “scientific speech research”, the time that it takes and the many dollars that it costs. Frankly, I have neither the time, the pocketbook nor stomach to do it – nor do I need to be told what I KNOW and have proved is true: My methods work, period. Just go to our Speech Hall of Fame (https://speechanxietyanonymous.org/pwss-archive/), to which we add proud new members every month. Read the tear-stained words of our PWSS (people who stopped stuttering) and watch their supporting videos – some before, during and after their stuttering days.
So, I shall spend my precious waning hours on this terrestrial ball coaching speech-sufferers, helping them stop their quite unnecessary stuttering and learning to love to speak. Indeed, they kindly reward me with bountiful gratitude. My Cause remains: Kick stuttering off the planet! I must leave the “scientific research” to the speech professionals, who enjoy such arcane activities.
While I have your attention, I will add this, all the world’s stutterers need to know that there is finally a community of EX-stutterers, a place to go and learn, to hang out, to stop stuttering, to learn to love to speak, to learn how to convert stuttering into a true blessing. Yes, there is, and YOU are there right now! That community is World Stop Stuttering Association. Enjoy it; take advantage of it. Suck every ounce of its sweet nectar. It’s YOUR community, the world’s ONLY community of EX-stutterers. Go there; stay there; grow; learn; help others – and live a fluent life. It’s now yours for the taking.