Stuttering Group Celebrates 30 Years of Support for Members
Jul. 25, 2012
About 50 local members of the National Stuttering Association (NSA) gathered recently at the UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders to celebrate three decades of overcoming challenges and of sharing support.
"Being associated with this group and the people at UT Dallas Callier has enriched my life beyond measure,” said founding member Lee Reeves.
The group formed 30 years ago in response to a lack of knowledge and ability by professionals to help those affected by stuttering. Callier opened its doors to the group and members have gathered monthly at the Inwood Road center ever since.
The anniversary celebration brought together longtime members of the group, as well as former participants, one of whom now lives in Buffalo, N.Y. and another who traveled from Oklahoma City.
Members discussed the impact that stuttering has had on their lives. They shared stories about the emotional toll of dealing with the lack of understanding about stuttering, and then described how much they benefited from the national association.
Lee Reeves, a founding member of the local branch, said he enjoyed sharing memories and stories with old friends and newer members. He thanked Callier and its speech-language pathology team for their continuing support of the organization.
“The value of self-help and mutual aid has long been established for a variety of diseases, disorders and life predicaments,” said Reeves, who is a Plano veterinarian. “Stuttering is a complex developmental speech disorder that continues to be poorly understood by not only the public but by many speech-language pathologists. Research has shown that self-help groups serve needs that are distinctly different from those provided by traditional modes of therapy. Being associated with this group and the people at UT Dallas Callier has enriched my life beyond measure.”
The local chapter of the National Stuttering Association formed 30 years ago in response to a lack of knowledge and ability by professionals to meet the needs of people affected by stuttering.
Because of the success of the adult organization, similar groups have formed at Callier for children and teens. Former Callier speech-language pathologist Tricia Krauss-Lerhman, who attended the May event, started one of the first children/parent support groups (Y.E.S.S.) in the country as a result of her longtime involvement with the Dallas NSA.
Members of the NSA were pioneers in the effort to create a partnership with the graduate program in speech-language pathology in UT Dallas’ School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS). Several innovative initiatives have been developed from a mutual desire to train better clinicians and researchers.
Callier and the graduate program in communication disorders have consistently supported the concept of self-help for stuttering, Reeves said. Representatives of the NSA have spoken to every graduate class from BBS over the last 30 years. Callier faculty members also require communication students to attend self-help meetings to pass their courses.
Dr. Thomas Campbell, executive director of Callier, and Jan Lougeay, director of clinical education, were on hand for the anniversary celebration.
“Being able to help host the 30th anniversary of the NSA was clearly a delight,” Campbell said. “It was clear from the comments and testimonials of individuals that this organization has made a significant difference in their lives and in their ability to communicate.”
Stuttering is a complex developmental neurologically based communication disorder and researchers are still struggling to understand its cause and to find effective treatments. Perhaps the most significant change in thinking over the last few years is the realization that early diagnosis and intervention is preferable to waiting for a child to "outgrow it."
Reeves and his fellow members also said they felt encouraged by a reduction in the social stigma associated with stuttering. The self-help movement has played a significant role in that change, which gave them another reason to celebrate the anniversary.
“There are always new challenges and opportunities for the NSA and Callier to work together to improve the lives of those affected by stuttering,” Reeves said. “We look forward to another 30 years of partnership in advancing the understanding and treatment of stuttering.”
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