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Vivian Sheehan´s Legacy
The following reviews of "No Words to Say" and "Joseph G. Sheehan's Message to a Stutterer" appeared in ASHA Journal, the professional journal of speech-language-hearing pathologists published by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), in December of 1988.

"No Words To Say"

ASHA JOURNAL DECEMBER 1988 - Review by Dr. Eugene B. Cooper

"No Words To Say." By Allan Holzman. Produced by Holzman and Ron Amick. Distributed by Amick/Holzman Company, 10061 Riverside Drive, Toluca Lake, CA 91602-2560. Color only. 56 minutes. Reviewed by Eugene B. Cooper, professor, the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.

"No Words To Say" begins with the simple printed message that people like Moses, Winston Churchill, and Marilyn Monroe stuttered and that about 1% of the world's population stutters. This message flows across the screen with the sound of a piano as background.

Allan Holzman, the producer, director, photographer, and editor, then discusses his own stuttering problem and his desire to produce a film on stuttering. Holzman notes that while conducting research for the project he became aware of the stuttering therapy program that Joseph G. Sheehan conducted for 35 years at the University of California at Los Angeles until his death in 1983. The program continues under the direction of his wife Vivian. The videotape is dedicated to Joseph G. Sheehan and was filmed at UCLA featuring stuttering therapy program staff members Vivian Sheehan and Peter Kupferman and more than a dozen adults who had been or currently were enrolled in the therapy program.

The videotape consists primarily of shots of the verbal interactions of Sheehan and Kupferman with adult stuttering clients in group situations and concludes with what might be described as a graduation performance where group members stand before their colleagues and express their feelings about stuttering and how they have coped with it. There being no narration, the continuity of the videotape is dependent solely on the editing of the spontaneous verbal interactions of the group-therapy participants and the short personal statements of clients at the videotape's conclusion. The quality of the sound and the picture throughout this color video is excellent.

Holzman notes at the beginning of the video that the UCLA program is based on the concept that stutterers can be fluent if they give up the attempt to be fluent and learn to stutter openly by eliminating stuttering-avoidance responses and the fear of stuttering.

The remainder of the videotape demonstrates how that orientation to stuttering and its treatment is implemented at UCLA. Clients are advised that they are no different in any way from normal speakers. They are advised that there is nothing physically wrong with them or their speech mechanism. Clients are urged to purge themselves of all the tricks they have learned to avoid stuttering. They are counseled to accept themselves as stutterers. Vivian M. Sheehan, M.A., CCC

Techniques such as the use of voluntary stuttering, "sliding" (continuous phonation with light articulatory contacts), and "canceling" tense involuntary disfluencies by immediately repeating the stuttered word with a voluntary disfluency are among the specific procedures described to assist clients in learning to stutter openly and freely.|

While some of the concepts concerning the nature of stuttering and its treatment as presented in this videotape might be considered simplistic, it is difficult to criticize this videotape. It succeeds admirably in presenting an overview of the UCLA program in an interesting and informative manner without any distracting didactic narration.

A large measure of the videotape's success can be attributed to the attractive, bright, winsome, and articulate stutterers who participated. One must wonder how representative they are of the adult stutterers in the general population. Nevertheless, the clients' thoughts, attitudes, and feelings are expressed honestly in this videotape and, overall, their message is informative, instructive, and, indeed, inspiring

This videotape should be in the library of every education program in speech-language pathology. In addition to introducing clinicians to Sheehan's conception of stuttering and its treatment, students can observe a variety of stuttering patterns in adults. Clinicians working with adults can use the tape to assist clients in exploring their own feelings and attitudes towards stuttering as well as to simply inspire clients in their continued pursuit of their own goals.

Finally, this videotape should be required viewing at least once annually by every support group for stutterers. As with "Joseph G. Sheehan's Message to a Stutterer," the producers of "No Words To Say" have made a significant contribution to the profession and to those who must cope daily with chronic stuttering.

"No Words To Say" Copyright (c) 1988 AMICK/HOLZMAN COMPANY

NOT AVAILABLE AT PRESENT TIME -- Please check back later or contact Ron Amick
"Joseph G. Sheehan's Message to a Stutterer"
ASHA JOURNAL DECEMBER 1988 - Review by Dr. Eugene B. Cooper

"Joseph G. Sheehan's Message to a Stutterer." By Allan Holzman. Produced by Holzman and Ron Amick. Distributed by Amick/Holzman Company, 10061 Riverside Drive, Toluca Lake, CA 91602-2560. Black & White and color. Reviewed by Eugene B. Cooper, professor, the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa

Those involved in the production of this jewel of a videotape obviously knew Joseph G. Sheehan well. The technically superb tape begins with Sheehan telling a humorous but pointed story and ends with another. In between are edited clips of Sheehan taped between 1952 and 1980. Sheehan conducted the University of California at Los Angeles stuttering clinic for 35 years from 1949 until his death in 1983 and appeared on local and national television talk-shows throughout that period.

Most of the clips used in this video and taken from those appearances are in black and white. All are of excellent quality. The alternate use of color and black and white in the video is managed effectively and in no way detracts from the video's viewability. Masterfully edited with no distracting editorial narration, the video clips capture Sheehan's dynamic and forceful personality as well as succinctly and clearly conveying his central theses with respect to the nature and treatment of stuttering

Sheehan's view of stuttering as a role disorder is the recurring theme across the nearly 30-year span represented by these video clips. The viewer is treated by seeing and hearing Sheehan himself describe several Sheehan conceptualizations that have been found useful by so many for so many years. Sheehan's view of stuttering as an "approach-avoidance conflict," his equation of stuttering with an iceberg, his description of stutterers viewing themselves as "giants in chains," and his therapeutic emphasis on assisting the stutterer to stutter openly, are presented as only Sheehan could

The producers have performed an invaluable service to all those interested in the problem of stuttering. Having known Sheehan personally for a quarter of a century and having followed his work closely, I think this brief video accurately captures not only Sheehan's general view of stuttering but also his personality. Indeed, Sheehan was a Pied Piper as this video so deftly demonstrates. The viewer can see and hear how this supremely articulate, charming, creative, and forceful individual was able to develop the following he has. Dr. Joseph G. Sheehan

Because, in these clips, Sheehan presents his views with such assurance and deceptive simplicity, I am concerned that naive viewers will think they have heard and seen all they need to see and hear about the problem of stuttering. Obviously. such a concern is, in fact, an indication of the video's effectiveness. In the video, Sheehan's focus is on the chronic perseverative stuttering syndrome with no references to the developmental or remediable stuttering syndromes. Even serious students of stuttering, as they view this video, may find a need to remind themselves that the problem of stuttering is a good deal more complex than suggested by this presentation and, from the wealth of Sheehan's contributions over the years, Sheehan himself documented. Again, however, the video succeeds superbly in presenting an overview of Sheehan's major contributions concerning the nature and treatment of chronic stuttering

The video should be required viewing, at some point in the education of every speech-language pathology major in the discipline. Practitioners will find it useful for orienting adolescent and adult stutterers and their loved-ones. It should be in the video library of every support group for adult stutterers. The messages conveyed are timeless. This video is a significant contribution to the profession and to those who must cope with chronic stuttering.

NOT AVAILABLE AT PRESENT TIME -- Please check back later or contact Ron Amick

"Joseph G. Sheehan's Message to a Stutterer" Copyright (c) 1988-2009 AMICK HOLZMAN COMPANY -- All Rights Reserved


About the Reviewer

Dr. Eugene B. Cooper, Ed.D., CCC-SLP, is Professor in Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders and Professor and Chair Emeritus, Department of Communicative Disorders, The University of Alabama.

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