Make Room For The Stuttering

A Few More Workshop Reflections

Posted on: July 18, 2011

Here are several more workshop summaries from the 100 workshops that were available to choose from and attend last weekend at the National Stuttering Association conference in Ft Worth, Texas. Having people share their take-away points is important.

As promised, Anna shares her reflections on two more workshops she attended. It’s a good thing my volunteer writers attended different workshops, so we could provide this feedback.

Dr. Baker’s Speech – Treatment Innovations and Journey of Hope presented by Robert Baker Ph.D.

Anna writes: “Dr. Baker, a child psychologist, was once a PWS, but recovered using a theory called “British Object Relations”. Now perfectly fluent and confident, he uses play therapy and this theory to help young kids who stutter.  He calls himself “a messenger of hope”. Unfortunately, his explanations of the method and the theory itself were very vague.

I was able to make some sense of his workshop, because of my experience with NLP sessions, and because of my extensive reading on the subject of  the subconscious mind and its problems.  Judging from audience reactions however,  this workshop left many people confused and puzzled, if not annoyed and angry. One PWS in the audience was particularly annoyed by Dr. Baker’s approach and loudly cautioned parents not to “trust just any wacky treatment” only because someone benefited from it. I wasn’t sure about it either.

I am sure glad my parents tried everything from traditional speech therapy to hypnosis and even incantations from a “village witch”. Yet, beside Dr. Baker, I never met a PWS who would say that it was “Object Relation therapy” that helped him or her.”

Going Beyond Stammering with Confidence  presented by Maria McGrath.

Anna writes: “Paddy will pick me up after school”, little Maria said to the other kids. Except that she wanted to say Daddy and couldn’t say “D”. Since Paddy was her cow, the kids laughed mercilessly at this mistake. When she graduated from college, she had difficult time finding jobs. She was a good accountant, but had to decline or leave all jobs that required speaking. Now she is fluent… Well, not quite.

Maria told her story in a clear, strong voice with no signs of stuttering. She is a McGuire graduate, who puts a lot of time and effort into mastering the special technique that allowed her to gain fluency. “I still stutter, and I know I will never be able to speak like other people, but I am working on becoming a better speaker every day” says she in her controlled voice.  To me it was interesting that the first time she went to McGuire program, she relapsed quickly and resumed her stuttering. Her second time she realized that she needs to change internally as well. This time the success was lasting.”

Thanks Anna (see Anna in action here delivering a speech)  for sharing these terrific reflections. It gives others a taste of what they missed.

My friend Alex shares his surprising reflections on the keynote address by Neal Jeffrey.

Alex writes: “The workshop that moved me most was one that I didn’t expect. I was a little skeptical about the Neal Jeffrey workshop, although the NSA all-stars who spoke before him were incredibly inspiring. You can never hear enough stories of people who stutter prevailing and overcoming some of the negatives that we all seem to face.

My skepticism came from reading the bio of Neal in the NSA program, where it mentioned all of his accolades: college quarterback, NFL quarterback, minister, and motivational speaker. Nowhere in the bio did it mention he stutters, so naturally I was unsure how he would be able to relate to us. The first thing he said in his speech was that he is in fact a person who stutters, and right away, he captured my attention.

I do not have a very religious background and although I certainly do respect all those who choose to follow whatever religion they choose, I was blown away by how inspiring this man was. I came away from the session feeling more empowered to be a great person than I ever thought possible.

With the amount of volunteer work I do, the profession I am going into (Speech-language pathology), and my passion for fitness and helping others achieve their fitness goals, one might think that I am already empowered to do great things with my time here on earth. Well, to my surprise, I felt like jumping out of my chair and screaming “AMEN” at certain points throughout his speech. He instilled a greater sense of pride and passion for being a PWS which was amazing for me and I’m sure everyone else in the room.

I really felt as though he made a connection with everyone in the room. Maybe I’m so grateful for this experience because I was not expecting it in the least.  He has certainly made a lasting impact in my life.”

Thanks so much Alex for sharing this honest and insightful reflection.

I want to add one more thought. I attended one of the Open Mic sessions, which are offered throughout the conference. I try to get to at least one every year. I was so inspired by how many first-time attendees were willing to stand-up and share something with the group, whether it be why they were there or just saying their name.

These personal testimonies always move me to tears, and this years was no exception! The session I attended was on the first afternoon, hosted by my friend Bernie Weiner!

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2 Responses to "A Few More Workshop Reflections"

Interesting summary,thanks!

Thanks for coming to my open mic session. So many people, so little time. The first timers always inspire me, they show courage and heart.

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