Gerald F. Johnson, Ph.D. CCC SLP/A
Professor Emeritus, School of Communicative Disorders
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Executive Director, AIMS
American Institute for the Management of Stuttering
474 Lake Bluff Lane
Grafton(Mi]waukee), WI 53024-9764
414-377-2301; 414-377-5377

We are interested in cause/effect relationships with certain attitudes that either keep stuttering weak or strong. Because of how you think and feel about your stuttering your behavioral outcome will be predetermined and be either positive or negative or someplace inbetween these polar values. It should be obvious that the way you think and feel will determine the way you are. Your ups and downs are your reflections upon events that you experience either internally or externally. Positive values developed by your reflection of your life and your thinking about these events determine your notions about what life is all about. Think well--live well.

With that brief background, let's look at some of the attitudes that can effect your outlook on life and how all of this is intertwined with your stuttering. Remember, we are looking at a continuum of cause/effects relationships. Because people differ, you might not experience some of the attitudes talked about.

ENVY. It might seem trite to say this, but you ARE your own person--be true to yourself. Keep working toward personal satisfaction. No one is better than You--they are just different from you. Neither compare yourself to fluent speakers or to persons who stutter (PWS) whom you believe are talking better than you. As you have experienced in your therapy, talking better takes self-confrontation, time, energy, perseverance, consistency, and a personal need to talk better. Other PWS bring their own attitudinal baggage to their therapy which is different from yours. Differences in progress towards more acceptable talking is common and should not be interpreted as a deficit in your ability to succeed in therapy.

IMPERFECTION. You must learn how to realistically deal with your imperfections. Learn to tolerate yourself and all that you are and who you want to become. Strive to rise above what you cannot tolerate, but tolerate that which cannot be changed. Your present stuttering is an imperfection which you can continue to work towards improving. Self-acceptance is very important because it gives you the strength to build upon your innate confidence and willingness to let go of any preconceived notions of inadequacy as you move forward with your stuttering.

INTIMIDATION. The feeling of Intimidation can come from within just as readily as it can come from other people. Intimidation often gives rise to avoidant behavior--you hold back because you do not feel adequate to the speaking situation or to confront a particular individual. Sometimes intimidation comes around in a full circle--you feel intimidated, you feel inadequate, you avoid talking, and you have fulfilled your prophecy of not being able to talk. Sometimes the expectations of other people toward the success of your stuttering modification and fluency can also be intimidating--they expect you to be able to do as well all the time. You will need to talk to these people to explain to them that your stuttering is still very powerful and that you need to constantly remain vigilant to not allow yourself to slide back to your former level of stuttering.

OBSESSION WITH STUTTERING. If not a day goes by without your thinking about stuttering you will have to change your mind set so that you can visualize your ability to control your speech in various ways to fit different situations. Sometimes your stuttering can determine how you will perform during your day. When this happens you allow yourself little if any flexibility or spontaneity in meeting the days activities and you become inhibited. It is better to have tried and stuttered than to not have tried and then feel doubly miserable--miserable because you didn't talk and miserable because you "escaped" stuttering for the moment fully realizing that your stuttering has governed your life and your stuttering has not gone away. You are damned if you do and damned if you don't. You will gain in strength each time you change your negative obsession about stuttering into a positive approach and you attack each speaking situation vigorously and with positive speech energy.

INTENSITY. The concepts of inspiration vs. perspiration need to be understood. Inspiration provides us with a base from which to spring into action. If your therapist is inspirational and you relate to this type of personality so much the better. If not, a more pragmatic type of therapist might be best for you--understand that a pragmatic personality type can still be inspirational to you within your own personality make-up.

Whatever type of personality you have and how you relate to your therapist is only a part of the story behind successful therapy. The other part, of course is the tenacious effort you put forth in mastering the mechanics behind the therapy--perspiration is a great analogy to make this point. It is the perspiration of action, activity, effort and your application of the mechanics therapy that makes your therapy come alive. You can be inspired to the heights of the mountain, but until you start to climb the mountain you will not enjoy the view from the top.

ENERGY. No pain no gain. Consistency, ego power, positive speech energy, letting go of self-protective devices, and taking risks are all a part of the energy needed to develop speech that will be acceptable to you.

SATISFACTION AND ACCOMMODATION. Your attaining a certain level of fluency in therapy will depend upon the severity of your stuttering and your personal attachment to it. Work toward your own satisfaction and accommodation with your stuttering modification program. Be patient with yourself because it took you quite awhile to develop your stuttering and now it will take some time for you to feel comfortable with your new speaking ability. Be realistic with yourself and continue to maintain your therapy gains and, if possible, continue to improve to your next level of satisfaction.

STUTTER FREE SPEECH MYTH. Stutter free speech is usually a myth if you are a hard-core person who stutters (PWS). Do not feel guilty if you cannot attain complete fluency because most PWS leave therapy with a stuttering residual which remains with them the rest of their lives.

Throughout the suggestions offered in preceding paragraphs are many ideas which you might wish to integrate into your personalized therapy program that you develop after your therapy. Making your personalized therapy into a life style will repay you many times over by keeping your speaking ability at a level where you are personally satisfied.

added with permission October 29, 1998