I went to speech therapists for help, but I still stuttered. Hypnotists, acupuncturists, psychologists and transcendental meditation gurus promised they could cure me. None of them could.
On days when any live work was scheduled, I'd wake in a cold sweat anticipating the humiliation that might come hours later when people would watch my mouth lock. That fear made me decide to quit.
But then I tried one more stuttering treatment. I heard about a three-week clinic in Roanoke, Va., called the Hollins Communications Research Center. It re-teaches stutterers how to make every sound. Apparently, stutterers, even when we don't block on words, initiate sounds more abruptly, and that often leads to stutters. In Roanoke, they had us sit in little rooms reading words into a microphone, concentrating on beginning each sound gently. When we hit a word too hard, a red light came on. The therapy is tedious, and it doesn't work for everyone, but it worked for me. After three weeks, I felt like a cork had been removed from my throat. Years of speech poured out. People couldn't shut me up.
I'm not "cured" -- I still stutter sometimes -- and I still must practice the techniques I learned. But my stuttering is no longer the obstacle it was. For more information about stuttering therapy, consult the Stuttering Foundation at www.stutteringhelp.org.
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