Glasner, pioneer in children's speech therapy

P. J.

January 13, 1995|By DeWitt Bliss | DeWitt Bliss,Sun Staff Writer

Philip J. Glasner, whose personal experiences with stuttering led to a pioneering career in speech therapy, died of heart failure Wednesday at his home in Rockville. He was 85.

Mr. Glasner was an assistant professor emeritus of psychiatry and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins medical school and a former chief consultant in speech therapy for the Children's Psychiatric Service at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

He retired from Hopkins in 1974, after four decades with the medical institution. He had joined the staff there of the first children's psychiatric clinic in a general hospital, recruited by Dr. Leo Kanner, its founder.

Dr. Leon Eisenberg, who succeeded Dr. Kanner as head of the Hopkins service and is now professor emeritus of psychiatry and social medicine at Harvard University, described Mr. Glasner as "a pioneering figure in speech therapy in children," and as "the developer of the psychotherapeutic approach."

He added, "He has grateful patients all over Baltimore."

Dr. David Josephs, a pediatrician who also worked with Mr. Glasner, described him as "a really, truly internationally renowned speech therapist with many innovative contributions" -- as well as being a pleasant, congenial and nonjudgmental person.

The author of six published professional papers and chapters in three books, Mr. Glasner was a fellow and life member of the American Speech and Hearing Association, a fellow of the American Orthopsychiatric Association and winner of an award from the Maryland Rehabilitation Association for his services to the disabled.

He suggested that stuttering is an emotionally caused problem that starts in childhood and can most effectively be treated then. He said it may be caused by many circumstances in the home, especially confusion from "the indecision and inconsistency usually characteristic of over-anxious parents."

"A calm and consistent household," even when other problems exist, is least likely to produce stuttering, he said in a 1966 interview.

At the same time, he said, "I've never seen a parent who realized how much suffering this handicap brought to a child." Speaking of those at family interviews with him, he added, "So many have burst into tears, saying, 'I never dreamed it was so . . . ' "

Mr. Glasner understood. He had started stuttering before he was 6, and studied accounting at the Baltimore College of Commerce because he thought the work would be at a desk, and he wouldn't need to talk to people.

He worked for a short time for the city of Baltimore, but found accounting uninteresting. So Mr. Glasner turned his attention to the problem he had, reading all the material he could find on stuttering -- including articles in foreign languages that he had translated by friends.

Evaluating this material from his own experience as a stutterer, Mr. Glasner replaced the abnormal speech manipulations that he thought were causing his stuttering with a way of speaking that he could control.

He also studied psychology and speech pathology at Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania and later became certified as a clinical psychologist and as having clinical competence in speech pathology.

In addition to his work at Hopkins, Mr. Glasner maintained a private practice for many years until 1988 and had been a consultant to schools, hospitals and agencies.

Services were to be held at 10 a.m. today at Sol Levinson & Bros., 6010 Reisterstown Road.

Mr. Glasner's first wife, the former Dorothy Waranch, died in 1985 and he remarried.

Survivors include his wife, the former Bertha Blum Shefferman; a son, William M. Glasner of Victor, N.Y.; a sister, Helen Butt of Washington; and a granddaughter.

Donations may be made to the Robert Glasner Memorial Fund for Diabetes Research at the Hopkins medical school. It is named for another son who died in 1984.

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