Article from Bob Hookins, Barnstaple

Bob HookinsI first met with Philip last December when he came to enroll for help with his reading.  When I asked him to do the reading test, he actually managed to read all of the sentences on the sheet, but the fluency was lacking and in his speech and reading he had a very prominent stutter. He explained that his main concern was that in the Summer of 2013 he was getting married and he was very nervous about messing up his marriage vows.

So I decided to try and help him and we started meeting just once a week from the middle of February onwards. We used the Yes we can read manual to understand the principles, as well as spending about 5 minutes each session with one of the Quick Read books to try and get some fluency into longer passages than the manual provided.

When he became stuck due to his stutter, I found that he kept repeating the previous 4 or 5 words, so we decided that if he did come to a halt, he should concentrate on starting where he had stopped.  After some perseverance he managed to do this, until eventually the fluency was restored and when reading there was no evidence of the stutter which appeared in normal conversation.

We then turned to the problem of the marriage vows, when nervousness was bound to set in and interfere with the fluency. Fortunately, I had just retired after 14 years at a local Register Office, where conducting marriage ceremonies was a regular part of my job. I therefore knew the legal words Philip would have to say and I used my contacts within the Registration Service to contact the former colleague who was to conduct the ceremony. He agreed to ensure that a few extra words could be added to give a little warmth to the stark legal words.

Because Philip’s reading fluency had become so much better, I typed out the words I knew he would have to say. The page of words was laminated on 2 sides, so that he could have them on the desk in front of him as a prompt at the wedding, but we practised them on a regular basis so that they would be totally familiar to him.

The wedding took place at the end of July and, according to my former colleague, Philip was faultless with his words.  When I saw Philip for his next session he was really “chuffed” at what he had done and said he couldn’t stop talking about it with his work colleagues.

He is still meeting with me once each week and is now two-thirds of the way through the course. We are still concentrating on his speech to try and get it to a level similar to the fluency of his reading, when all of us will be really “chuffed”.

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