|About the presenter: Andrew Harding is a staff member of the British Stammering Association where he is part of the information team, helping to answer more than 2500 email and telephone enquiries a year. He produced two booklets for BSA on employment and stammering and edits the quarterly magazine Speaking Out. He also produces the One Voice newsletter for the International Stuttering Association.|
When I was about 11 I went each week to speech therapy, which meant many hours of talking at slow rates of speech, both to the therapists I saw over a period of 18 months, and to a parent at home. Such dedicated work was intended to re-program my normal stuttering way of talking, producing a fairly effortless flow of fluent speech that I was told would be mine to keep so long as I put in the practice. And, on the whole I did. It worked - at least at the time. But it would have been very helpful to have been told that I could still feel like a normal human being when I stuttered. Rather than feeling that weeks of practice were unwinding when my articulatory mechanisms seized up, I would have found it helpful to have been told that some stuttering was to be expected, that it was quite normal and would remain so for me, but that the fluency skills I had learned would enable me to fairly quickly get back in control.
It would have been helpful to have been told this as part of a process to uncover, just a little, of the thoughts and feelings that triggered stammering and made it worse. I did not, and do not want, some deep sort of psychological analysis. Remoulding stuttered speech into fluent speech was enormously helpful. It's just that I would have likes to have been told 'it's okay to stutter a bit - sometimes'.
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