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Alan Rabinowitz in CockscombThis week’s guest, Alan Rabinowitz, stuttered as a child with such severity that he would sometimes go into twists and spasms when he tried to speak. He hadn’t even spoken a full sentence to a human being until high school.

The audio above is excerpted from a section of the unedited interview that we reluctantly had to cut for time. Rabinowitz goes into detail about this childhood stutter and explains the journey he undertook to becoming a "fluent stutterer." Listen to his moving account in which he describes how these extreme tactics, including electro-shock treatment, ultimately led him to find his voice, and why that drove him into a life as a wildlife biologist and conservationist.

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10 Comments

How touching and significant to hear. Thank you for sharing it in this manner!

Animals are truly God's instruments - they are endless sources of comfort, learning and love. Yay!

Wonderful, fascinating, inspiring, astounding

As a speech pathologist, I know the effort and persistence required to speak the way your guest does in this clip. What a remarkable man. It is heartbreaking the way he was treated. Sadly many children and adults with speech and language disabilities continue to grow up feeling less than whole. I sometimes think all our help may result in reducing their confidence and self esteem in the long run. I wish I had a solution. I can only add my voice to those who celebrate Mr. Rabinowitz and his great achievements.

Hi Mary Beth. I am a speech pathologist also and have struggled with your same question. Perhaps we can consider that we provide people tools they can use to empower them and then we guide and encourage them. I also was greatly impressed with how well Mr. Rabinowitz manages his fluency. I have copied the clip to share with clients who stutter.

I can relate to Dr. Rabinowitz's story. As a child, I found solace with my pets and in nature. Interacting with people was so much harder. People, especially my elementary school classmates would laugh at me when I spoke. Speech therapy gave me the tools I needed to live a normal life as an adult. I now speak fluently with people at work. I have a garden others envy. This and natural areas I've helped restore have provided habitat for the flora and fauna that I've always related to. The Earth will be healthier when we realize that people are an integral part of the natural world.

Brings to mind Tracey Chapman's song; "Heaven's here on Earth", so much kindness in the animal kingdom, even when we humans forget.

A day or two ago I put my hand into the African Grey's cage. Wuji was startled. 

Suddenly, I found the skin of my arm in his mouth. He squeezed me pretty hard because he was falling and trying to catch his balance. That got him thinking, 

"Do you deserve a little something for making me lose my cool?"

He considered the prospects and volunteered to play the heavy. As his resolve hardened, the pressure increased. He was committing himself to the action. 

I could, of course, move my arm the opposite direction to escape; if he held on it would make him fall. He would get hurt instead of me. I didn't want that. 



His strategy shifted around my response. 

"Or is your arm in my mouth because you helped me find my balance?" The vice loosened.



Well, in that light we both could see that I was still standing there steady as a rock. I noticed my state of mind. I was a little bewildered at the process, calm, and totally at ease. 

At that point we simultaneously looked into each others' eyes and asked one another, "Why am/are I/you biting her/me?" 



Exerting no pressure now, he held me there a little longer to let me know we both agreed on the future in which I was helping him. THAT is the practice! Spirit to spirit.

I put my hand into the African Grey's cage. Wuji is startled. 

Suddenly, I find the skin of my arm in his mouth. He squeezes me pretty hard because he is falling and trying to catch his balance. That gets him thinking, 

"Do you deserve a little something for making me lose my cool?"

He considers the prospects and volunteers to play the heavy. As his resolve hardens, the pressure increases. He is committing himself to the action. 

I can, of course, move my arm the opposite direction to escape; if he holds on it will make him fall. He will get hurt instead of me. I don't want that. 



His strategy shifts around my response. 

"Or is your arm in my mouth because you're helping me find my balance?" The vice loosens.



Well, in that light we both can see that I am still standing there steady as a rock. I notice my state of mind. I am a little bewildered at the process, calm, and totally at ease. 

At that point we simultaneously looked into each others' eyes and ask one another, "Why am/are I/you biting her/me?" 



Exerting no pressure now, he holds me there a little longer to let me know we both agree on the future in which I am helping him. THAT is the practice! Spirit to spirit.

I stuttered for nearly 30 years and haven't stuttered for 34 years. However, I have been a professional pet sitter for 16 years. I prefer animals over people. Animals are kinder to each other between species than we are to one another. I have rescued many animals as animals have always rescued me. I, like Dr. Rabinowitz, prefer the company of animals to people every single day of the week. I look into their eyes and they look into mine. We converse with our hearts. I truly adore each and every one. I grew up on a farm in Indiana and I was always in the woods, barn, barnyard, etc. with the animals. They have always been there for me. I am immensely grateful. I say that they are angels God put here to help us through the tough times and to bring us joy and share our joy at other times. Everyone knows me as Nanny Fran. I have been told that I am "over the top" regarding the love and care I think should be there for our dear ones. I see every day how animals help each of us. Each pet is a "pet therapy" pet. We owe them big time! Since I was a toddler I prefered animals to people and still do. Perhaps today even more so than 40 years ago.