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About Us

It seems fitting to write this section in the first person. I´m Ken St. Louis and am primarily responsible for leading the effort to develop the POSHA-S. The origin of IPATHA and the POSHA-S are summarized in several places (e.g., St. Louis, 2005; St. Louis, Lubker, Yaruss, Adkins, & Pill, 2008). I have told my own story in my book. Living With Stuttering: Stories, Basics, Resources, and Hope (St. Louis, 2001). The first part of the book, written primarily for people who stutter, is comprised of 25 individual stories of stuttering.

I reportedly began to stutter sometime between the ages of two and three years. I cannot remember not stuttering. Growing up on a cattle and sheep ranch in northwest Colorado, we were untouched by speech-language pathology because the field was essentially unknown in our area and there were no practitioners available. Nevertheless, as a result of speech therapy I later received during my high school and college years, I more or less recovered. Since about the age of 20, I have stuttered only infrequently. Even so, it does occasionally reappear when I speak on the telephone or when asking for favors I would prefer not to ask for. But this describes my speech in English. I joined the US Peace Corps after college in Turkey. I stuttered significantly in Turkish, and I still have mild but obvious stuttering when I speak again in Turkish. Unlike many of the stutterers I have known, I do not recall ever being teased, bullied, or treated unfairly because of my stuttering. Maybe that was because I had an uncle who stuttered and because my father apparently stuttered as a child.

After my first therapy experience at a summer program at the University of Wyoming, which was very successful before a later relapse, I decided to become of speech-language pathologist (or “speech therapist” in those days). My goal was to solve the problem of stuttering. Neither I nor anyone else will achieve that overly idealistic aim anytime soon, but it has kept me focused on stuttering throughout my career. After receiving degrees in the profession from Colorado State University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Minnesota, I’ve consistently taught, carried out clinical work, supervised students in therapy, and pursued research in stuttering. For all but three years of that period, I have been at West Virginia University.

I am a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, which certifies speech-language pathologist to practice. Additionally, I am a Board Recognized Specialist and Mentor in Fluency Disorders, and was instrumental in founding the Specialty Board in Fluency Disorders. Prior to that, I was a cofounder of the International Fluency Association.

It might be useful to mention the programs of research in which I have made the biggest contributions. One area has been in test or instrument development. In addition to the POSHA-S and other versions under development, I coauthored the Oral Speech Mechanism Screening Examination, now in its third revision (St. Louis & Ruscello, 2000). I am also author of the St. Louis Inventory of Life Perspectives in Stuttering (St. Louis, 2001) and coauthor of the Self-Awareness of Speech Index (St. Louis & Atkins, 2005).

Another area of research focus has been coexistence of communication disorders, also known as comorbidity. A decade of research in this area culminated in a coauthored monograph entitled, “Coexistence of Communication Disorders in Schoolchildren” (St. Louis, Ruscello, & Lundeen, 1992).

Currently, my research interests and contributions are in three areas: public attitudes, cluttering, and stories of people who stutter. The first, public attitudes toward stuttering, is described fully in this website.

The second relates to cluttering, sort of a “second cousin” to stuttering, in the family of fluency disorders. I have been active in this area since the 1980s, and with several colleagues, have succeeded in putting cluttering “on the map” in speech-language pathology. I help to found the International Cluttering Association in 2007 and co-recorded a widely used DVD entitled “Cluttering” (Myers & St. Louis, 2007)

The third area of research, stories of stuttering, has been ongoing since the mid-1990s. Although I’ve been considerably less active in this area than in public attitudes or cluttering, I published the book, which contains my story (St. Louis, 2001). A revised edition of Living With Stuttering is currently in preparation. It is worth mentioning that my wife, Rae Jean Sielen, and I founded Populore, the publisher of this online publication and its companion printed POSHA-S User’s Manual. My interest in stories of people who stutter reflect influences from Populore’s mission of “preserving stories of the people.” Populore’s mission, in turn, was influenced by my childhood and ongoing St. Louis family ranch tradition of remembering and retelling our stories.

Much of my service relates to stuttering as well. I have also been a member of the National Stuttering Association (NSA), a self-help organization for stuttering, since its inception and have served as leader for a small local NSA chapter for the past decade. I have served on the advisory board for the International Stuttering Association, a coalition of national self-help organizations around the world.

These, and related experiences with local, national, and international self-help organizations, have sensitized me to the needs of understanding the environment within which a person who stutters is reared and lives. Growing evidence convinces us that stuttering is not, in its first appearance, the result of a psychological problem, which many believe. Instead, it is typically related to yet-to-be completely understood differences in the role of the brain in programming speech. But it can and often is triggered by psychological events, some of which may be traumatic.

It could be said that IPATHA is rooted in my life-long interest in improving the lives of people who stutter, in my fascination with how we think about and remember our pasts, and in my dedication to internationalism.

Ken St. Louis with Muhtar in his Peace Corps village, Turkey