The article explained that the Australian stuttering research centre at Sydney University's Cumberland campus has been comparing the outcomes of its new internet-based interactive behavioural therapy with traditional face-to-face psychological counselling.
High school mathematics teacher Phil O'Rourke is one of 40 life-long stutterers who took part in the Sydney trial. He said: ''The therapy tries to establish the fact that no one actual cares if you stutter or not, planting the seed that your belief that the world is going to cave in, if you can't get out a word, is all in the mind.''
Professor Onslow said stuttering was a physical disorder caused by unusual brain activity rather than nervousness or stress. It affects between 1 per cent and 2 per cent of the population. 'If you go to a speech pathologist for stuttering, they can help you control the stuttering, but they're not qualified to help you with your anxiety,'' he said. (www.smh.com.au)
Well-Being Australia chairman Mark Tronson said that for whatever reason, he’s been a painful stutterer all his life. In 1976 he was working as a locomotive engineman on the NSWGR, part time studies at the University of Wollongong, and seeking the Lord towards theological seminary for Ordination as a Baptist minister.
1976 Intensive Clinical Sciences course
Because of his impediment, he thought it prudent to take a fortnight's intensive speech therapy course in Clinical Sciences at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney. At that course, he was re-taught to speak. ‘Gentle Onsets’ was the name of the game, allowing the outward breath carry a gentle sound which would then be formed as a sounding word as the breadth carried it out of the mouth. There were exercises and they each had to go on talk back-radio.
Mark Tronson said he was re-taught to speak as in that old advert (Aerogard) - “Didyouhaveagoodweekend”. The most difficult situations are lining up to buy a ticket (train, theatre, cinema …), asking someone directions, shopping and meeting new people. The worst parts are those dreaded starts of sentences or the words that come after a breath, when you need to get the sentence going again.
“That speech therapy course has held me in good standing all these years although I still get stuck many times, and I am forever changing words (in my mind) before I come to use words in conversation. In effect, like many stammerers, in my mind's eye, I'm up to one or two sentences ahead while speaking out the current sentence, having memorised all the words that I'm comfortable with one or two sentences ahead, and continuously, especially when in a public place,” Mark Tronson explained.
He continues his story as a life long stutterer: For sheer memory retention, language agility, vocabulary breadth and doggedness, stammerers are very quick thinkers. The problem is choosing words we know we can use, and avoiding those we know give us problems – and every stutterer is different.
As air flow is the critical component, as illustrated in “The King's Speech”, singing is never a problem as there is air flow. Shouting is never a problem or saying things very loudly, and therefore preaching has always essentially, for me, been stammer-free. I raise my voice a lot ….. not so much to emphasise a point, but to avoid stammering.
He explained that the Lord led him to a girl who became his wife who had a hearing defect (her mum had German Measles when pregnant). Sweet nothings were loud sweet nothings – “I could say them and Delma could hear them! I've always said our 35 years of marriage has been one of bliss as Delma can't hear and I can't talk.”
Stuttering doesn't need to be an impediment
Mark Tronson takes up the story: You never stop from being a stammerer - as a stutterer all my life and over these past 35 years in Christian ministry, it hasn't curtailed my Ministry as I have:
Been ordained as a Baptist Minister,
Been Chaplain to the Australian Cricket Team for 17 years (retiring end of 2000), and establishing Life After Cricket in 2001
Founded the Sports and Leisure Ministry under Heads of Churches (1982-2000),
Negotiated chaplaincy ministry 'face to face' to all codes of Australian professional sports,
Been awarded the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis, Olympian of the Century,
Established The Basil Sellers Moruya and Tweed “Respite facilities” for AIS athletes and the cricket family and the missionary respite house at Laguna Quays on the Whitsundays.
Established the Basil Sellers Art Prize (Moruya) and two Basil Sellers Art Centres.
Written 24 books and theological advisor to Christian Today (Australia),
Anchorman for the Australian Missionary News IPTV,
Chairman of Well-Being Australia 2000 -
Telling our children (and now grandchild) many astonishing bed time stories (as illustrated by Prince Albert in The King's Speech),
... and a lot else besides... there is not much a stammer' cannot do !! Stammers' have been prophets, kings, cricketers, preachers ….
The King's Speech
I related to so much of the movie “The King's Speech”. It was living my life all over again: the struggle; the heartache; the loving wife; the family; the sheer determination; never say it can't be done ….. I was once described as being 'stubborn' … one has to be, to win through the heartache and pain. Being laughed at or hearing sniggles when I stammer is part of life. Always has been.
The 1982 Churches of Christ Head of Church, Bob Smith years later, in 2005 addressed the NSW Council of Churches, published in 'Summa Supremo' where he spoke of my visit in 1982 regarding establishing the Sports Chaplaincy. Bob Smith said Mark Tronson had the most 'painful stutter'. Yet he sensed the Spirit of the Lord and said that the Sports Ministry released a breadth of other community ministries.
I've often reflected upon what I experienced as the, “spiritual power in stammering” when negotiating chaplaincy appointments. There was a sense in which the other party recognised something of a divine intervention, with someone who stammered so agonisingly. Distinguished sports journalist Roy Masters mentioned this in 1984 in his feature article on the sports ministry. In addition, many an occasion I perceived in my soul, the right direction to steer a conversation, the 'intuition' (discernment) was over powering.
Time and time again I witnessed a transforming sense of ownership of the chaplaincy or ministry project, on the part of the other party. 'The King's Speech' reiterated this strange phenomenon, whereby it was the responses of those closest to King George VI who heard his clarity in his 1939 'Call to War' speech.
Turning things around
History, Mark Tronson says has a way of turning things on their head, as God chose in this instance, a stammerer to lead the English peoples through those dreadful WWII years.
In much the same way, the Lord chose not to initiate the Australian sports ministry with a perfectly groomed and attired Sydney or Melbourne private schooled clergyman. The contrast could not have been more telling.
Mark Tronson says of himself: “I'm the larger man (rotund), dressed by the suburban men's store, speak as if I'm still a train driver (that I was for 10 years), a fuddy duddy and eccentric, who laughs at himself hilariously, and more, a matured aged student with hard-yakka theological under-graduate, theological prizes and post-graduate honours.
“I am personally disappointed that Lionel Logue the speech therapist didn't receive a Knighthood for his services to the King, as, in my mind, these services to the Commonwealth (formerly the British Empire) was greater than many others whose efforts have been rewarded in this way. But I'm biased as I stutter...
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html