How Bad Do You Stutter?

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Re: question

From: Russ Hicks
Date: 20 Oct 2007
Time: 08:34:04 -0500
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Hello Aimee, Thanks for reading my paper. You used the phrase "... to help you control your struggles ..." A very good (actually more than that, more like world class) SLP friend of mine said once that is she'd like to eliminate two words from stuttering therapy, they'd be CONTROL and FLUENCY. Boy howdy is she ever right! The more you try to CONTROL things, the more trouble you get into. (Just look at the current world situation as a prime example!) CONTROL becomes force and power and struggle and war and it becomes a self-defeating downward spiral. So after you nearly die trying, you find that you have to give up control, just let things happen naturally. The newsletter of the National Stuttering Association is aptly named "Letting Go" and I love that title! It says it all. Just Let Go and wonderful things begin to happen. No, you still don't become fluent, but your entire LIFE becomes better and less of a daily battle with uncontrollable forces. It takes the passage of time and encouragement from lots of people who understand - including our wonderful SLP friends who can play such a vital role in helping us make all this happen. It's not an easy journey, but it's a life-changing process. The goal is NOT fluency, but a more successful, enjoyable life. ..... I know you didn't mean to stumble on that word red flag word "control" <grin> and you used it to mean "reduce your struggles" but I couldn't resist... Sorry about that! <smile> ..... The direct answer to your question - regarding struggles - is really no. Once I intellectually realized that people don't really mind easy stuttering as long as you can COMMUNICATE well, it took years to convince my heart (emotions) that that was the key to doing this. I joined Toastmasters and got an unending stream of positive feedback as I learned - along with everyone else - how to improve my communications skills. And certainly one of the important factors in good communications is the elimination of distracting features in your presentations. Secondaries such as head jerks, eye blinks, foot stompings, etc. are FAR more distracting than easy stuttering. The techniques/strategies that I used were mainly just realizing to LET GO and let my stuttering happen as easily as possible. I made almost no attempt to CONTROL my FLUENCY, because that has little to do with good communication. That's an extremely difficult concept for people - both stutterers and SLPs - to grasp, but it's true nonetheless. It's a "less is more" concept. ..... Can this be taught by an SLP? Yes, I think so. It's certainly no quick fix, but it works in the long run. It's inherent in stuttering modification and is not present in fluency shaping. Give your clients LOTS of positive feedback about the GOOD things that he does, and over time that positive feedback will seep into his emotions and influence his ability to let go of trying to chase the Fluency God. It's a back door approach, I realize, but it works. It just takes time. ..... All that being said, techniques and strategies DO work for lots of children. Show them how to improve their fluency which can reduce their frustration, but give them confidence that even though they still may stutter, it's far from being the end of the world. NEVER praise fluency! (That reinforces the belief that fluency is good and therefore stuttering is bad.) Praise their ability to COMMUNICATE well. Praise them when they say what they want to say whether they stutter or not. Praise their easy stuttering and letting go of any secondaries they may have. Praise them for not letting their stuttering get in the way of doing what they WANT to do. Praise them for simply being happy! Praise, praise, praise! ..... You asked me a short question and I gave you a long answer. (I tend to do that! <grin> But I hope it helps. ..... I wish you the very best, Aimee! ..... Russ

Last changed: 10/22/07