Here’s the most recent version of the 3-minute talk that I’ll be presenting in Edmonton early in March 2012.
I really enjoy the process of rehearsing and developing such a talk. I’ll be using a stopwatch to ensure I’m exactly on target in terms of the length.
Good evening. I began to stutter at the age of 6. In my teens and early twenties, I stuttered severely. Sometimes I could not get out any words at all.
I had some treatment over the years. But I was not able to do much in the way of public speaking until I attended the ISTAR clinic in July 1987
After the clinic, I practised my new fluency skills every day for over four years. It took a while to adjust to my new situation. Each time I’d be making a fluent presentation to a large audience, a voice inside me would say, “You’re not supposed to be able to do this. You’re supposed to be falling flat on your face.”
That voice really bothered me. At first I thought I should get some psychotherapy. But then I realized that what I needed to do was to compare notes with other people who stutter. As a result, I formed a self-help group for people who stutter in Toronto in September 1988. About a year later, a speech therapist, Tony Churchill, told me at a meeting that the inner voice was telling me I needed to adjust to some changes that had occurred in my life. After that, the inner voice never bothered me again.
In the late 1980s, Einer Boberg contacted several self-help groups in Canada, and suggested we organize a national conference for people who stutter. We organized such a conference in August 1991. That event led to the founding of the Canadian Stuttering Association.
Einer Boberg also got me and others involved in volunteer work at the international level, starting with the International Fluency Association. In the course of that work, I was involved in the founding of the Estonian Stuttering Association in 1993, and the International Stuttering Association in 1995.
Einer Boberg, Deborah Kully, Marilyn Langevin, and many others at ISTAR have provided effective treatment for large numbers of people who stutter. ISTAR practises a data-driven, evidence-based approach to the treatment of stuttering. The program is continuously updated, from one year to the next. These ways of doing things inspire me tremendously. I wish you continued success in your work, on behalf of those of us who stutter, and our families, in the years ahead.