Thanks To My Stutter, I'm Never Lost For Words

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Re: Therapy technigues

From: Alan Badmington (to Lynne)
Date: 15 Oct 2008
Time: 03:56:55 -0500
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Hi Lynne, It’s a pleasure to receive your comments. Thank you for writing in such a generous vein. I recall that I have communicated with several persons from the College of St Rose in the past. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Joe Klein (assistant professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders) in person. I participated with him in a workshop at the NSA Conference in Long Beach, California in 2006. Returning to your post - yes, I readily acknowledge that the McGuire Programme provided me with the springboard for change. In response to your question, one of the most significant tools with which it equipped me was costal breathing. Importantly, it allowed me to overcome my speech blocks. The fast and full inhalation (via the mouth) ensured (inter alia) that I counteracted my tendency to hold back. But I was introduced to SOOOOOOOOOOO much more than just the breathing. I acquired a wide array of tools to deal with the many words/sounds/letters that held such an emotional charge. (I avoided 13 letters of alphabet for most of my life). The terminology used on the Programme probably differs from that utilised in other therapies/approaches. For example, I found ‘block release’ (immediately and effortlessly releasing the air when a block occurs) most useful. The technique known as ‘short hit and hold’ (where the ‘difficult’ part of the word is said assertively, before quickly moving on) also helped me to overcome the problems I had experienced for so many years. I also learned the value of pausing, eye contact, voice projection, clearer articulation/enunciation etc etc. The McGuire Programme strongly encourages self-acceptance, including the use of deliberate dysfluency (voluntary/pseudo stuttering) to advertise to our listeners the fact that we stutter (I understand that this technique differs from the way it is used by other therapies). Deliberate dysfluency is also a useful ‘fear-reduction’ and ‘desensitization’ tool. Care is taken to stress that the Programme is NOT a cure – it is designed to provide a client with greater control over his/her stutter. Those attending the Programme are also introduced to John Harrison’s stuttering hexagon concept, which views stuttering as an interactive system comprising six components (beliefs, intentions, behaviours, emotions, perceptions and physical make-up). Using the tools that I was given, I was encouraged to deal with fear by greater assertiveness, concentration and non-avoidance techniques. Facilities were also made available for me to practise my new techniques and speaking behaviours on future courses, at designated support groups, and via the 24/7 international support network (telephone and Skype). The all embracing holistic approach also encouraged me to challenge my fears, expand my comfort zones, widen my self-image and change my stuttering mindset (again, all with support). Would my life have been different if I had followed a similar path earlier in my life? Certainly! My police career was tainted with disappointment and lost opportunities but I hold no bitterness towards those who openly refused to promote me because of my stutter. That was their decision. The past is history – I cannot change what happened. It is futile to even ponder the unanswerable – “What if…?” or “If only…”. I would simply be wasting time and energy – I have far more meaningful and exciting things to do with my life.  Besides, it would probably make me resentful – something I would never allow to happen. The only persons who would suffer would be me and my loved ones. Recounting such negative past occurrences would not serve any useful purpose. Instead, I choose to focus on things that I can influence. I have moved on and live for the present. Every day is an adventure and I look forward, with eager anticipation, to the future. You enquired, “If you could share one bit of knowledge with future SLP’s to pass onto their future clients, what would it be?” How long do I have?  I have so much I would like to tell them. If you would care to read the following article, you would glean an insight into the points that I touch upon when addressing SLP students at US universities. Helping tomorrow's therapists help people who stammer In addition, I would stress that learning a technique in isolation has limited value. The important thing is what the client does with that technique. I feel that clients should be made fully aware that stuttering needs to be addressed holistically – it is not simply about the mechanics of speech. Lynne, I apologise for being so long-winded, but I wanted to respond, meaningfully, to the points that you raised. And, finally, I did visit New York in 2005. If I return on some future occasion, I will certainly stop by at CSR. Alternatively, maybe I could address one of your classes via a telephone or Skype link? They are fairly simple and inexpensive to arrange. Thank you, once again, for taking the time to read my paper and respond. I wish you every success with your studies. Kindest regards Alan

Last changed: 10/15/08