By Milton Horowitz
Bill Leinweber's essay in the Foundation's Summer 2012 issue inspired me to tell my story, in the hope that others, now dreading their lives as stutterers, will be comforted.
I'm a lifelong stutterer - now 81 years old and recently retired. As a youth I was protected by my parents, who ensured that I got therapy in "speech class," so called at the time. Therapy helped build my confidence mostly while I was in class. Outside, my struggles for breath while speaking continued pretty much unabated.
As did Mr. Leinweber, I took to writing, in a sense unafraid to speak to myself in private. I read a lot; soon I had a vocabulary of synonyms to help me avoid such terrifying plosives as p's and t's, letters and words that I learned to dread as I gasped for breath, waiting to speak with pounding heart, dry mouth, and tightened throat.
I thought to get through my work life as an editor, to be let alone to sit and edit in silence. But that was not to be for long. I was promoted to supervise staff. I learned to break up speeches with visual aides - flip charts, slides, overhead transparencies - giving "chalk talks." Managing book publishing departments, I kept at hand the visual aides that reduced my difficulties while talking to an audience.
Stuttering taught me to prepare for my assignments, to rehearse my talks. An extensive vocabulary not only helped me as an editor; it also eased me around those words that interfered with my breathing and shook my confidence.
I'm retired now, mindful that I've had a satisfying personal and business life. I hope that other stutterers will take heart from my story, determined to get on with their lives.
From the Fall 2012 Newsletter