What Does a Grapefruit Have to do with Stuttering?

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Re: Can this work for everyone?

From: Kristin Pelczarski
Date: 12 Oct 2008
Time: 16:34:42 -0500
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Hi Ashley - Great question and thanks for sharing! Sometimes cases like these can be tricky since the disorder of stuttering can be so complex. The fact that this client is a teenage boy can make it even more challenging! As to whether analogies work for everyone – well, I don’t think every analogy works for every person. That said - we can’t know unless we try! There are a couple of different ways that I think you could try presenting the analogy. One way to approach it would be for you as the clinician, to demonstrate it. Let him observe you while you try to conceal an actual grapefruit and give you feedback. You can tell him you were given an assignment to do it and his job will be to “grade” you. How well of a job did you do? Were you always able to hide the grapefruit? Was it horrible to see the grapefruit or once you got used to seeing it was no big deal? Did you look silly or in control? Could he tell you were trying to hide it? Any one of those kinds of questions would allow for a transition back to talking to him about his speech. If he tells you slipped up a few times and he saw the grapefruit – acknowledge that “yeah, I did. It can be a lot of work”. Then ask him if he thinks he ever does that with his speech. The conversation could go a number of different ways. Follow his lead and perhaps he’ll surprise you. But, if it doesn’t resonate with him, then that’s okay too. (Scott Yaruss and I wrote an article about this topic in the August 2008 issue of Perspectives on Fluency and Fluency Disorders, “Accompanying a Client on His Therapeutic Journey, if you are interested in more about that topic). Another alternative would be to present it, as is, and see if he truly does respond the way you suspect he might. If he does indeed make a comment such as the one you stated about how he would hold the grapefruit the longest, use that as an opportunity to ask him more about that and expand on his response. Although the general goal behind this analogy is to illustrate how much work and effort can go into hiding stuttering, it could also be just as valuable clinically if he is willing to think a bit more about why he makes those choices in his life right now. Again, this is not to judge someone who might avoid stuttering, but it can be used as a tool to help explore the reasons behind it more. In what ways would he be the best? How does it make him feel to be the best? Does he ever wish he could just stutter openly? No? Okay, why not? This type of questioning can sometimes lead to more insights. Sometimes, however, people do not want to talk about it and that is okay too (see the Perspectives article). I hope this helps! Please let me know if I can clarify anything else!

Last changed: 10/12/08