From Stuttering to Fluent Speech, 6,300 Cases Later: Unlocking Muscle Mischief La revue.
According to Ronald L. Webster, PhD, the founder and president of the nonprofit Hollins Communications Research Institute (HCRI) in Roanoke, Virginia, stuttering is the most misunderstood of all human disorders, leaving stutterers to wander through a maze of misinformation, underserved by academics, clinicians, and self-help organizations, and often resigned to dealing with the stress and humiliation of their affliction for life.
Dedicated to the scientific analysis and treatment of stuttering since 1972, the institute has brought fluent speech to 93 percent of the 6,250 stutterers who have undergone behavior-based speech retraining through HCRI’s intensive, twelve-day therapy program. Data shows that 70–77 percent long-term retention of fluent speech for those who participate in the program, in contrast to the 25–30 percent long-term success rates reported with traditional stuttering therapies. Some of the more famous clients who have benefited from HCRI therapy are Annie Glenn, wife of Ohio Senator John Glenn, Lester Hayes of the Los Angeles Raiders, and John Stossel of the ABC investigative program 20/20.
Now, Webster provides a fascinating, in-depth look at his experiences in the field of stuttering, including how it is scientifically defined, how the analysis of events involved in the disorder led to suggestions about a potential cause, and how his program results are shown to be effective and reliable. He begins with the fact that speech is a unique attribute of our species and explains that going back sixty thousand years to the dawn of anatomically modern humans, stuttering is a universal trait of our species.
From there, he moves on to point out where several fundamental misunderstandings have led to confusion and uncertainty about the focus of both research efforts and treatment programs for stuttering. When he says that the problem with stuttering is that stuttering is not the problem, he means that there is some other problem that leads to the repetitions, prolongations, and voice blockages that we label as “stuttering,” and that problem is muscle misbehavior that drives the speech organs into disturbed positions.
In looking at what factors may be responsible for the preliminary muscle misbehaviors, the author details the biological foundations of stuttering, considers conditions such as white noise masking that generates fluent speech in stuttering, and develops the theory that physical distortions in the stutterer's reception of their own speech sounds represent the primary cause of stuttering. This theory represents the foundation of Webster’s extensive work in replacing stuttered speech with fluent speech, and the chapters where he presents his experiences in the development of an effective stuttering treatment will be of great interest to those who are seeking guidance that has practical and reliable payoffs in therapy. Concrete data and personal accounts by many stutterers who have undergone treatment at HCRI further highlight the program’s efficacy, and a view into the future of stuttering therapy shows how more and more lives can be enhanced as a new standard of excellence is brought to the treatment of one of humankind’s oldest and most unusual disorders.
The main intent of this book is to encourage more critical thinking about the problem of stuttering. Too many stuttering self-help books on the market today are simply the personal stories of stutterers who believe their experiences and their causal attempts to explain stuttering will benefit others. But their explanations do not meet rigorous standards of scientific method. Meanwhile, textbooks and books written from a clinical perspective fail to provide clear guidance that stutterers can use to improve their speech fluency. This book will show you how a more robust understanding of the problem can help you achieve the lasting poise and confidence you need to succeed in a world where effective communication is of paramount importance..
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