September 15, 2012

The New Book on the Block!

Stuttering: Inspiring Stories and Professional Wisdom – This is the first publication from StutterTalk – a well known free podcast service, which openly discusses stuttering and features people actually stuttering on air. The StutterTalk podcast has published more than 350 episodes over the past five years and features people who stutter (PWS), therapists, parents, academics and all kinds of people. Stuttering: Inspiring Stories and Professional Wisdom is a collection of excellent essays, edited by Peter Reitzes, David Reitzes with editing help from Nan Bernstein Ratner, Bob Quesal, J. Scott Yaruss, Walter H Manning and others. Information is up to date, authentic and comes from diverse sources. The intended audience is PWS, their families, colleagues, friends, therapists and graduate students. This book is available as a paperback for $12.99 and as an e-book or download for $5.99 (INR 340)..
The book is divided into two sections. The first sixteen essays are under the heading Inspiring Stories and are written by PWS (one from a spouse of a PWS). The final nine chapters (Professional Wisdom) are written from reputed teachers and clinicians – people who day and night worry about how to make therapy more effective and relevant to the needs of PWS. We all – PWS and therapists, will learn something useful in this book. By the way, Peter is a speech-language pathologist (SLP) and a PWS. In the United States, many PWS turn to speech therapy as a career, in search of lasting solutions and also to offer better support to other PWS.

The inspiring stories are honest, funny, full of insights and wisdom and represent a diverse view point. In “Stuttering: A Spouse's View”, Mandy Finstad offers this advice to PWS, based on her own life, “Stuttering, like an individual’s quirks, habits, practices, personality traits and the like, is managed by both partners—albeit in very different ways—within a marriage or relationship.”

Another essay by a practicing Attorney, Aonghus Heatley, “Stuttering Silently and Speaking Openly About Stuttering” is a deeply honest and close look at work place issues such job interviews, Mr. Heatley comes up with amazing personal solutions and perspectives on being a person who stutters in the workplaces.

Many PWS often develop a tunnel vision, which excludes all other diversities and issues of humanity except ours – stuttering! I was very happy to see a contribution from the LGBT community written by Roger Roe on “Passing Twice.” The essay explores life experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people who also happen to stammer. I think “straight” stutterers can learn a lot about acceptance of who they are and being open about stuttering from LGBT community. A must read!

The Professional Wisdom section has nine well researched and referenced essays. Of course, I wish a few of the writers could use a language and style suited more to lay users. For example “Discovering Effective Clinicians Using Evidence from the Common Factors Model” uses some technical language and a dense style of sharing facts. Oh,
fortunately it has a summary at the end for us mortals! However, most of the 25 chapters are written for the general public.

Each essay has something to offer on a diverse range of topics including clinical therapy, personal paths forward (self therapy or self help), acceptance, disability & law, fluency, self help groups, role of listening in self help meetings, mindfulness, common mistakes made by clinicians and much more.

On the whole, this book represents an important and welcome trend in speech-language pathology, at least in the USA. Clinicians are beginning to understand and acknowledge the importance of collaborating with PWS and are willing to help PWS explore alternatives to help them live a meaningful life with some stuttering and disfluency.

My personal favorite is the first essay in the Professional Wisdom section by J. Scott Yaruss on the topic of acceptance. A common question from PWS is: If I had to accept my stammering, why should I see a therapist or participate in self help? A counter query would be: If you don’t accept that you have a problem, why would you work on it?

So, it seems that acceptance is like a Zen Koan: no apparent, logical solution. But Yaruss, an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh and a leading researcher, takes up all these tough questions and answers them very objectively. Let me not spoil the fun by sharing his conclusions.
Please buy a copy on your journey of discovering your truth and your path. This contributes to the free podcast service that Stuttertalk is running. Buy an additional copy and present it to your local self help group, your spouse or partner, local library. Gift a copy to your boss. It is worth it. And don’t forget to write about it in social media! Use this link on Facebook and Twitter for the most updated book information:
(Reviewed by Dr Satyendra Srivastava
MBBS, PGC- H&FW Mgmt )


Anonymous said...

Congrats for sharing PWS's perceptions and opinions.. Insider view is important to understand any phenomena holistically..

Anandh Sundar said...

I purchased the Kindle edition and reviewed it on Amazon also..its quite good especially the first part..for some1 regularly attending TISA meetings and knowing the philosophy its not much different, but the examples bring the content to life, and you have the joy of supporting the publishers. Thanks to TISA for bringing this to our notice, and keep doing so.

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