Having recently suffered congestive heart failure, my doctor has
suggested that I put my affairs in order since my days are numbered. I
have done so.
Yet one thing remains and perhaps your newsletter that I have enjoyed
reading for many years may take care of that. I want very much to share
with other stutterers what I have learned about the disorder in my 85
years before The Reaper cuts me down.
During my career I have worked with thousands of stutterers, done a lot
of research, and published several books and many articles on the
subject. More importantly, I have stuttered myself all of those years
and have tried almost every sort of therapy ranging from rhythmic
controls and relaxation and slow speech and breathing exercises to
psychoanalysis and hypnosis. All of these failed to help me attain any
more than some temporary fluency followed by relapse. Nevertheless I
finally managed to become very fluent even though I continued to
The basic idea that led to my living a very successful and happy life
came to me while hitch-hiking my way home from Rhinelander, Wisconsin,
where I had spent a month as the hired man on a farm, pretending to be a
deaf mute because my stuttering was so severe and grotesque I could not
get any other employment. I had hoped thereby to be able to live
without talking, but after a month I couldn’t bear it any longer and
left to return to a home where I felt I would not be welcome.
After walking several miles I sat under a tree to rest near a field
where a man was plowing. Soon an old man in a Model-T Ford pulled up
beside me and he got out to talk with the farmer. I noticed that he had
an odd way of speaking with many little hesitations but didn’t think it
was stuttering. When they finished their conversation, I accosted the
old man with the thumb gesture for hitch-hiking and he told me to get in
the car. Then of course came the inevitable question: �What’s your
name, son, and where are you going?� Oh, how I stuttered when I tried
to tell him with gasping, facial contortions and body jerks! And then
the old bugger started laughing outrageously. I could have killed him!
Seeing my anger, he said, “Take it easy, son. Take it easy. I’m not
laughing at your stuttering. I’ve been a stutterer all my life and I
used to jump around and make faces like you do but I’m too old and tired
to fight myself now so I just let the words leak out. And they do!”
Well, that hit me hard. All my life I’d been trying to talk without
stuttering and avoiding it and hiding it whenever I could and all that
had happened was that I got worse. That old man was telling me that
what I should have been seeking was a way of stuttering that would be
tolerable both to others and myself, that it was possible to stutter so
easily and effortlessly that it wouldn’t matter, that I could stutter
and be fluent anyway. The insight that I should learn how to stutter
hit me like a bolt of lightning. I wouldn’t just wait until I was too
old and too tired to stutter hard.
It wasn’t easy unlearning all my struggling and avoiding but every time
I stuttered I had an opportunity to change it to a more fluent form and
so I persisted. At first the gains were small and the failures many
but successes, even partial successes, encouraged me. Moreover, my
fears and embarrassments melted away. Most of my listeners do not even
recognize that I’ve stuttered when I do and I probably stutter as much
now as I ever have but it’s no big deal anymore.
Well, that’s the message I’d like to pass on to my friends of the
tangled tongue. Merely accepting one’s stuttering is not enough;
speaking out is not enough.
Learn how to stutter!
A Message from Charles Van Riper!!
Friends, this is such a GOOD article from Dr Van Riper (father of stammering therapy in USA) that instead of just giving the link, I am pasting the whole article here. It has got some deep messages for all of us. It also explains the very BASIS of stuttering modification approach, which many of us in TISA have used at some point in life. Brilliant. Read on..