Editor's note: This version corrects the number of Americans who stutter.
University of Toledo associate professor Rodney Gabel is director of the Northwest Ohio Stuttering Clinic.
University of Toledo associate professor Rodney Gabel has something in common with actors James Earl Jones, Julia Roberts, and Bruce Willis: They are among about 3 million Americans who stutter or have stuttered.
They each also overcame the communication disorder, and the organizers of a workshop Saturday at the Northwest Ohio Stuttering Clinic want to provide others who stutter the tools to find similar success.
Mr. Gabel is director of the clinic, which is located at the University of Toledo. He said the event provides an opportunity for parents and children to be around others facing the same challenges.
“It provides a release and nice atmosphere for parents to learn the best way to support their child and to share concerns,” said Mr. Gabel, who is also an associate professor of speech language pathology at UT. “For children, it’s [about] meeting others who stutter. It is to help them learn about stuttering and communicating,”
The one-day workshop is a project of the stuttering clinic and a group called FRIENDS, the National Association of Young People Who Stutter. It will be on the main campus at the UT College of Health and Human Services Building, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration fees, which include lunch, are $35 for individuals, $45 for families, and $70 for speech language pathologists who want to go to obtain continuing education credit.
Mr. Gabel stutters, too, and he credits his success to receiving “good treatment,” as he described it, during his early college years. The experience instilled in him a desire to study speech language pathology so he could help others with the disorder.
“There is a wide variability among people who stutter,” he said. He estimates that there are about 100,000 people who stutter in Lucas County.
“Some have a very difficult time communicating, and there are people who will — for lack of a better term — pass, or their stuttering is not that severe, or they develop their own mechanisms, or they might have had really good treatment.”
James Earl Jones, known for his iconic voice, was once a stutterer.
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Stuttering usually develops in children between ages 2 and 5, Mr. Gabel said. Some research evidence suggests the disorder is genetic.
“We know that about 80 percent of children who start to stutter will grow out of it, usually before age 5,” he said.
Speech language pathology is a broad field, with therapists working with people with myriad speech problems, said Mr. Gabel. Stutterers, he emphasized, need a therapist who specializes in that field.
“In our profession, we primarily train generalists,” he said. “But stuttering usually requires somebody who has a firm grip on how to do therapy.”
For further information about the workshop, visit utoledo.edu/healthsciences/depts/rehab_sciences/speech/shutteringclinic.html, contact Mr. Gabel at 419-530-6682 or the Friends organization at friendswhostutter.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Rose Russell at: email@example.com or 419-724-6178.