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From: Alan Badmington
Time: 3:45:28 PM
Remote Name: 220.127.116.11
A most informative article.
I had a long-term (and intimate) relationship with the Edinburgh Masker auditory feedback device, the forerunner of such appliances (3.2 Masked Auditory Feedback refers).
For those who are unfamiliar with the device, I should explain that it worked on the principle that if you don't hear your own voice, then it will reduce your likelihood of stuttering.
I am aware that the device proved too irksome for many who acquired it, but I painstakingly persevered and wore it over a period of two decades, with frequent headaches and ear infections. I changed my speech pattern to accommodate the masking sound - prolonging the words so that I kept the sound activated. It sounded unnatural but it helped.
The daily fitting was most time-consuming, occupying at least 20-30 minutes each morning, as I had to conceal the ear moulds and tubing beneath my hair (I was a serving police officer).
However, I felt it was worthwhile as the quality of my speech and life was improved. I was never fluent and the device invariably let me down in very stressful situations.
I wore it inconspicuously for 10/12/14 hours per day, while at work and on social occasions. Yes, it was infuriating - the loud buzzing noise continuing for as long as I spoke - but without it I was a far less capable person. Unless you have sampled the machine, you cannot imagine just what it was like. Some even perceived that I was hard of hearing, because I could not simultaneously listen to their conversation when I was speaking. When engaged in 'face to face' discussion, I would frequently lean upon my newly acquired lip-reading skills, but this was not possible when speaking in a crowd, or on the telephone.
Nevertheless, I considered it worthwhile and, in my opinion, the benefits far outweighed the sacrifices. One great advantage I derived was that it enabled me to venture into areas which most persons who stutter would have avoided. It had the effect of reducing fearful situations, allowed me to expand comfort zones and attempt words that I might, otherwise, have been tempted to substitute.
I no longer need such a device, but I shall be eternally grateful to the Edinburgh Masker for illuminating my darkest hours and enabling me to remain within my chosen profession. It supported me in my hour of need, allowing the development of skills that would, otherwise, have been outside my capabilities.
I have no shame in admitting that it was my mechanical crutch for many years. I have long discarded my faithful (but irritating) friend, and am now able to walk unaided (or, rather, with minimal assistance) but I feel that I owe it a considerable debt. Quite unwittingly, the Masker had enabled me to make changes in my Stuttering Hexagon that would later support greater fluency and self-expression. I am now deriving that benefit.