Who am I?

Hi, I’m Glenn Weybright. I’m a speech language pathologist in Portland, Oregon. I have been in this field for over forty-five years, beginning with ten years on the campus of Oregon Health and Sciences University in Portland at the community speech and hearing clinic. In 1984 I began a private practice in speech language pathology and retired from there in 2019. I have a master’s degree from Portland State University, hold the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA), and am licensed by the state of Oregon to practice speech-language pathology. I also hold the BCS-F certificate from the American Board of Fluency and Fluency Disorders in association with the American Speech Language Hearing Association, indicating I have additional training and expertise in working with people who stutter. I am member of the Oregon Speech Language and Hearing Association and the Portland Chapter of the National Stuttering Association.

Not just a job but a calling…

I was led to this profession I love because of my own stuttering. I grew up on the northern Oregon coast and on the lower Columbia River, where I was the only person I knew who stuttered. I remember asking God why he had given me the burden of troubled talking. (Of course now I know it was to lead me to this profession.) I began stuttering as a fifth grader and regained confidence in my speech as a junior in college after speech therapy at Portland State University under speech language pathologist and professor Dr. Robert Casteel. My mother helped me see my problem of stuttering as an opportunity and encouraged me to enter this profession. Because of my experience with stuttering, I understand what it feels like to have trouble talking and to experience the embarrassment, frustration, and shame that can accompany a communication problem. Because of my experience with stuttering, I am a more effective clinician. Visit the Stuttering Foundation for a wealth of information and help for people who stutter, their families, and speech-language pathologists.

As a working speech-language pathologist, I saw children and adults with a variety of communication disorders, including those with articulation and phonology disorders (speech sound problems), delayed or disordered language development, problems with voice (tone, quality, loudness, and resonance), and of course stuttering. Communication disorders may exist alone, or they may be a part of conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, fetal alcohol syndrome, Down syndrome, learning disabilities, and cleft lip and palate, among others. I have special interest and extensive experience in working with children with autism spectrum disorder, with childhood apraxia of speech, with children who have word retrieval issues, and a great interest in children and adults with Down syndrome. In the 1970s and early 80s, when Fairview Hospital and Training Center, the Oregon state institution for people with developmental disabilities, was being downsized, I worked directly with formerly institutionalized adults, many with Down syndrome, who were being released to small group homes in local communities. My job was to encourage and enhance their communication skills which were very much atrophied by living for most of their lives in an institutional environment. Based on that experience, I wrote a book called Listen: We Are Beginning to Talk (Ednick Communications, Inc., 1988) and developed an accompanying training video, useful for staff members working with adults in group homes. Thankfully, children with Down syndrome in Oregon and across the nation have not been institutionalized for many years. Instead, in most cases they are raised at home and in their communities. Research and experience have taught us that children born with Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities can reach their highest potential if they receive speech and other therapies as early as possible.

One of my areas of interest is parent education. In the early 1980s in Portland, I and another speech language pathologist, Jo Rosenthal Tanzer, helped introduce to the Portland area skills and techniques that parents could use to facilitate their child’s speech and language development. We called these methods Indirect Language Stimulation. We worked with parents of young children with speech and language delays, children too young to benefit from direct speech therapy. We taught parents to encourage speech and langue development by reducing questions, by using descriptive phrases, and by following the child’s lead in play. Out of this work came another book, Putting it into Words: An Introduction to Indirect Language Stimulation (Glenn Weybright and Jo Rosenthal-Tanzer, Communication Skill Builders, 1986). This book and a subsequent video program led a Portland company, Educational Productions, to develop and produce a video series for parents and educators called Good Talking with You (Educational Productions, 1987). This series was widely distributed and influenced a significant number of parents and professionals. Parent training, support, and encouragement were essential parts of how I provided speech therapy. I saw my role as one of coming alongside families with support and encouragement and specific training for them as I provided speech therapy for their child. New communication skills may be learned in the speech therapy room, but they are practiced and used for real purposes by families in the home and other real-world environments. It has been my career-long joy to meet many amazing families as we have
worked together to help their children.

From 2002 until 2016, and again in 2020, I worked as an adjunct instructor and adjunct clinical professor in the Speech and Hearing Sciences Department at Portland State University, where students train to become speech language pathologists. During that time, I taught or co-taught the graduate class in stuttering, one undergraduate survey of speech language pathology class, and, in 2020, I supervised four student clinicians as they worked with clients online via telepractice. I love the challenge of teaching and find it very rewarding to help new clinicians learn to work confidently with people with fluency and other disorders. I also found that teaching made me a better practitioner. In order to explain a particular type of therapy to students I had to understand it very well myself. As a result of these experiences, I have continued my habit of staying current on the latest developments and trends in stuttering therapy. I have also had the opportunity to lecture in other higher ed classes; in 2018, I was invited to present annually on speech and language development in preschoolers for a developmental psychology class at Central Carolina Community College (via online instruction).

As a young person growing up with stuttering, talking in public was the last thing I wanted to do. So, I avoided as much in-class talking as I could and of course stayed away from speech and theatre classes. Once I gained confidence in my speech, I realized that I actually liked talking in front of people, and it turns out that oral presentations have been a part of my professional career for years. I have spoken to over two hundred gatherings across the Pacific Northwest, including parent and teacher groups, grade
school and high school classes, men’s fraternal organizations, and many different professional groups, including speech language pathologists, pediatricians, dental assistants and dental students. I have talked about my experience with stuttering, about speech and language development and specific communication disorders and about many other topics in speech language pathology. I have also led workshops in language stimulation techniques for teachers and have provided day-long workshops for school speech-language pathologists in the area of stuttering. The joy of talking, after years when I could not, is still very real to me today, years after my own speech therapy. In 2007, I spoke to a regional meeting of the National Stuttering Association about my own experience: The Story of My Stuttering.

From 2012 to 2015, I participated in the development of a feature length documentary film about the challenges of stuttering called The Way We Talk, released in June 2015, and seen since then at various locations across the US (also available online). I am also an instructor for SpeechTherapyPD, an online video continuing education organization and have presented four workshops on stuttering for them. In addition, I am a presenter for Master Clinician Network, an online service providing peer-reviewed clinical videos in speech-language pathology for observation and critical discourse by college and university students in speech language pathology.

My community service includes 8 years on the board of directors of Meadowood Springs Speech and Hearing Camp. I also volunteered for several days for each of seven summers as a master clinician at the camp. Beginning in 2016 and continuing to the present date, I have served as a senior staff member at Camp More, an amazing residential week-long summer camp for children and teens who stutter, located on the Oregon coast. Campers work toward goals leading to more talking, more openness about stuttering, more saying what you want to say even though there might be stuttering (see A Letter from Summer Camp).

My awards and honors include the Honors of the Association by the Oregon Speech, Language, and Hearing Association (OSHA) in 2012; giving the Honored Alumnus Speaker address at the 2018 Portland State University Speech and Hearing Sciences graduation ceremony for master’s students in speech language pathology; and delivering the plenary session address Building a Legacy at the OSHA Fall Conference in 2019.

My ability to help people with communication disorders and those who support them continues to exist and thrive because of the encouragement and support of my wife, Debbie Weybright. We have four grown children, Eric, Amy, Matt, and Emily, and seven grandchildren. I have been blessed to have a profession where I could earn a living to support my family and at the same time make a significant difference in the lives of children and adults, and for that I am grateful to God.