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Stutterers as Therapists


Al Montgomery, Caroline Pittard and Alice Anne Farley are among a small group who truly understand the frustrations and joys both of those characters felt. They are stutterers who chose careers in speech language pathology.

“I can’t recall having trouble until one bad incident on the first day of fifth grade,” said Al Montgomery, 72, a research professor at the University of South Carolina Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.The summer after Montgomery graduated from high school, he attended a six-week camp for stutterers at Miami University in Ohio. A therapist came up with exercises that worked for him, and “as a result, I made amazing progress, which I retain to this day,” Montgomery said.

Farley’s parents told her she began to stutter at age 5 after she ran through a pile of hot ashes thinking it was a sand pile. She doesn’t remember stuttering until she was 7.  “In spite of stuttering severely, I had, by many standards, a normal childhood,” said Farley, 69, who has a speech pathology practice in Irmo. “I did hide my stuttering by holding my breath. Hence, many people didn’t know what my actual speech issue was.”  Her speech problems didn’t hold her back, and she was voted “Most Likely to Succeed” in her high school senior class in 1959.

Pittard, 28, works at Goose Creek Primary in Berkeley County as part of the new wave of trained speech-language pathologists working in public grade schools. Their goal is for young people who stutter to begin finding the answers long before they get to college.
Pittard began stuttering at age 3, but she wasn’t aware of her condition until elementary school. As she aged, the awareness grew, and the stuttering worsened.

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