When I was a little girl, I had a stuttering problem. The memories of struggling with words that started with “S” or “N” are vivid in my mind. Sometimes I would try to come up with ways to completely avoid saying anything that started with those letters.
Western Carolina University will host a screening of the movie “The King’s Speech” followed by a discussion focusing on stuttering, including treatment, self-help groups and other resources for people who stutter and their families, on Sunday, Oct. 23.
The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders is hosting the event, which is free and open to the public, at 2 p.m. in the theater of A.K. Hinds University Center. The discussion will be led by David Shapiro, WCU’s Robert Lee Madison Distinguished Professor and author of “Stuttering Intervention: A Collaborative Journey to Fluency Freedom.”
The movie is an Academy Award-winning historical drama inspired by the true story of King George VI and how speech therapist Lionel Logue helped him gain control over severe stuttering and deliver critical radio addresses during World War II.
“‘The King’s Speech’ reminds us that everyone has a voice, that every burden is lightened when it is shared, and that there is no replacement for the strength gained from human interaction,” said Shapiro. “Indeed, when people gather with a common focus and shared purpose, willing to learn and grow together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.”
The event is being held in honor of International Stuttering Awareness Day. Shapiro also is participating in the 2011 International Stuttering Awareness Day Online Conference. His paper, “Stories of People Who Stutter: Beacons of Hope, Portraits of Success,” is posted on the conference website at www.mnsu.edu/comdis/isad15/papers/shapiro15.html. Shapiro is answering questions posted in an online forum, which is open through Oct. 22.
Dr. Shapiro will host a discussion after the movie as part of International Stuttering Awareness Day.
The author of the newly released second edition of Stuttering Intervention: A Collaborative Journey to Fluency Freedom admits that his tome is a textbook for students in communication sciences and disorders and a reference work for speech-language pathologists. But to Western Carolina University Professor David A. Shapiro, it is not just a scholarly work, it also is a love story.
The book draws from Shapiro’s 35 years of experience as a speech pathologist in its examination of ideas and practices for assessing and treating people of all ages who stutter. He refers to working with people who stutter as a joy.
“Helping someone visualize dreams and work toward achieving them is such a special and empowering experience,” he said. “It is the birthright of every person to be able to use speech and language freely and to enjoy communication freedom.”
Stuttering Intervention is winning fans from the speech pathology profession.
“This book captures, better than anything I have read over the past 50 years, the unique sensitivities and deep feelings experienced by many people who stutter,” said David A. Daly, professor emeritus of speech-pathology at the University of Michigan and author of books on treating fluency disorders, particularly cluttering. “In my opinion, Dr. Shapiro’s understanding of the problem of stuttering and his thoughtful organization and presentation of the vast research and clinical information on this topic is unparalleled.”
WCU’s first Robert Lee Madison Distinguished Professor, Shapiro is internationally renowned for his work in communication sciences and disorders and has engaged in teaching, clinical service and research across North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa.
After being asked at conferences and in courses to identify where others could read more about the ideas he was sharing for working with people who stutter and their families, Shapiro felt compelled to write the book’s first edition, which was released in 1998.
Throughout “Stuttering Intervention,” Shapiro weaves real and instructive stories from his clients’ challenges and successes in communication and life and his own experience as a person who stutters with information about a range of topics. These include concrete strategies for evaluating and treating stuttering in clients from preschool children through senior adults, background about fluent and disfluent speech, historical and theoretical perspectives, and the personal impact stuttering can have on people’s lives. Shapiro shares international perspectives that cross disciplines and cultures and provides guidance about how to cultivate knowledge, empathy and understanding of stuttering and people who stutter.
For Shapiro, the bonds formed with his many clients and their families have been lasting. They keep in touch over the years, apprising him of special moments in their lives such as graduations, weddings and new jobs, all of which are possible or even more meaningful because of their ability to communicate independently.
“It is hard to imagine the challenges people who stutter incur on a daily basis as well as the joy that communication success brings,” said Shapiro. “Success is more than fluency. It is life-altering and freeing in many ways.”
In response to the invitation issued in the book for readers to contact him directly, Shapiro has received and responded to messages from people throughout the world. “If I don’t respond,” Shapiro said, “I didn’t get the message.”