The McGuire Programme Twenty Years Later....
Dave McGuire reunites with Ron Evans, one of his first students 20 years after his first pioneering stuttering course. Ron Evans talks about his life changing experience at the no nonsense stuttering course he attended 20 years ago.
Hello. I’m Ron Evans, a participant in the April 1994 “Self-Help Stuttering Program” held in Dave’s home town of Santa Barbara, California.
Let me start by saying, “Thank you”, first and foremost to Dave, and second to Dr. Ronald Kapp, who made the course legally possible by coupling it with his medical research. Over the past 20 years,
that single course has had a tremendous positive impact on the quality of my personal and professional life.
I don’t remember how I found out about the program, but it seemed promising and didn’t require a lot of time, so I made the 90 mile drive from Long Beach to Santa Barbara, not having any idea what I’d find there.
What I found was something astonishing and miraculous – a method that turned stutterers into fluent speakers in less than one week.
The participants’ severity varied greatly, from some who contorted their faces trying to force the words out, to others who only stuttered under certain conditions. I was in the latter group, stuttering primarily when doing things like ordering over the phone, introducing people, asking clerks if they had a particular item, ordering food, and making presentations. I had been stuttering a long time, and had gotten proficient at substituting words in mid-sentence. Later, when I told people about the course, they often replied ‘I didn’t know you stuttered’, but I did – sometimes a lot.
Dave knew the way to “beat the monster” (as Dave put it) was the same for all of us regardless of our severity; we all went through the same set of drills with no slacking off.
Dave passionately applied athletic coaching techniques to motivate and challenge us
to quickly learn and apply his method. One of the highlights was wading chest deep into the Pacific Ocean to prove we could still keep focus and cycle through the steps correctly, while shivering and watching out for the next wave. That showed us we were capable of staying “in method” no matter what was going on around us.
By far, the hardest thing for me was phoning a total stranger and stuttering on purpose. I had spent years trying to avoid the embarrassment of stuttering, and now Dave is telling me I need to stutter to another person. I feared it, and absolutely did not want to do it. But I did. I called a local auto parts store and asked if they had a certain part in stock, stuttering for probably 3 minutes to answer the man’s simple questions about the make, model, year, engine, etc. He was very patient with me, and at the end when I told him it was an exercise for a stuttering class, he was supportive and encouraging. Here I had just wasted part of his work time, and yet he was kind and supportive. Amazing! Gee, maybe most people are like him, and there is really nothing to fear. Maybe I hadn’t been giving people enough credit.
In the years following the course, I have stuttered on occasion, but have always been able to “counterattack the monster”.
It is a great feeling.
Ron Evans, March 2014