Jaan Pill stuttered severely in his early years. Every sentence was a struggle. Sometimes he could barely speak. The direction of his life changed when he read a Canadian Press news article about the Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research located in Edmonton, Alberta. He attended an ISTAR clinic in July 1987.

The article was in The Toronto Star on May 4, 1987. It was based, as Pill recalls, on a feature story in The Edmonton Journal. Pill's twenty-five years of volunteer work, as of May 2012, focusing on community development on behalf of people who stutter began when he read the article.

Because he sometimes got tired of newspapers, he wasn't planning to read a paper that day, but a neighbour across the hall, in the apartment where he was living, had left the paper for him. The neighbour knew he was looking for a new apartment as he didn't like where he was living at the time. In retrospect, one can say that what you don't like can sometimes change the whole trajectory of a person's life as occurred in this case.

In those days if you wanted to rent an apartment, you checked the classified section in a newspaper.

Much of Pill's volunteer work was initially on behalf of the worldwide stuttering community. Recently he has focused on community development as it relates to heritage preservation where he now lives, in Long Branch (Toronto not New Jersey). His website is at preserved stories.com.

In this video edited by Steven Toepell (BohemianPassport.com) Pill shares guidelines on how to speak with someone who stutters and highlights the innovative work of children's author Karen Hollett (HoorayPublishing.com) and podcaster Daniele Rossi (StutteringIsCool.com).

Pill spoke at the North York Kiwanis Club in April 2011. The text is available at the CSA website at Stutter.ca. You can find the text by pointing your browser to "Jaan Pill Kiwanis."

Several of Pill's articles are also posted at the CSA site including articles about podcasting, treatment options for people who stutter, the preschool social impact of stuttering, and teasing and bullying of children who stutter.

A subsequent talk was at a meeting of the Women's Canadian Club of Toronto on October 13, 2011. The topic was Dealing with Changes in Our Lives.

After attending the ISTAR clinic in 1987, Jaan Pill began making fluent presentations to large audiences. Each time he spoke, however, an inner voice would say, "You're not supposed to be able to do this. You're supposed to be falling flat on your face." That inner voice really bothered him. To deal with it, he decided he needed to compare notes with other people who stutter. That led him to found a local self-help group for people who stutter in Toronto in September 1988.

After a year of self-help meetings, and advice from a speech therapist who stutters, Tony Churchill of Mississauga, who told him the inner voice was telling him that he needed to adjust to some changes that had occurred in his life, the inner voice never bothered him again.

His involvement with a self-help group in Toronto prompted Pill to become active in the stuttering community. He's a co-founder of the Canadian Stuttering Association, the Estonian Stuttering Association, and the International Stuttering Association.

The stuttering treatment that has worked for him will work for about 80 percent of people who stutter. In other cases stutterers can benefit from a stuttering modification approach whereby they learn to reduce the severity of their stuttering. Whatever approach you take, he advises, look closely at the evidence regarding the results you can expect to achieve. He favours treatments for which long-term outcomes have been published in peer-reviewed professional journals

In Joanna Becket's article in the Fall 2011 issue of Canadian Health and Lifestyle Magazine, Pill discusses the impact of The King's Speech on public attitudes about stuttering. Will The King’s Speech lead to improved public attitudes about stuttering? According to information from Kenneth St. Louis as of October 2011, research suggests that watching the movie has a moderate effect in reducing negative attitudes toward people who stutter, and increasing receptivity to information about stuttering that is available from television, radio, and films.

For details about a survey instrument that Kenneth St. Louis of Morgantown, West Virginia has developed in collaboration with colleagues around the world to measure changes in public attitudes toward stuttering, please consult the IPATHA (International Project on Attitudes Toward Human Attributes) website at stutteringattitudes.com.

If you have a slow connection and the video sputters, download the file to your hard drive. That should provide a smoother playback.

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