I’ve got a secret- and it’s scaring me to death!


Jean Meyer and  Lauren Provus


Who is it?

o         Your mom, boss, or best friend?

o         IS IT YOU??

o         “Covert stutterers are those who seemingly speak normally at times, but put loads of pressure on themselves to conceal their occasional bouts of stuttering by using various techniques.  These are people who appear to look normal and will also be able to pass off for a non-stutterer for a few times, but ultimately as they say, ‘One cannot fool everybody all the time.’” (Karthik Ranganathan)

o         Or can they?


The Profile:

o         similar to that of overt stutterers (predominately males, family history of stuttering, poor phonological and non-verbal skills)

o         It is not uncommon for a covert stutterer to carry the secret of his or her stuttering alone, with no one among friends or family aware of their inner struggle to speak in a normal-sounding way. This person is an extreme example of avoidance. (Woody Starkweather)

o         core behavior: blocks

o         secondary behaviors:

o        escape behaviors: yawns, coughs & throat clearing

o         avoidance behaviors:  word/phrase substitution & scanning ahead

o         flee situations

o         appear shy and introverted

o         the “iceberg” problem


The “Iceberg” problem

o         physical problem of visible

stuttering forms the top of the iceberg

o          huge emotional baggage becomes the more significant, yet concealed, lower part of the iceberg (Karthik Ranganathan)


Your mission: therapy

o         transition to overt stuttering: uncover the alias

o         teach a slower speech rate

o         don’t interrupt

o         build confidence

o         maintain eye contact

o         auditory feedback


Direct from the source:

o         “I did not realize that one could be so practiced with paraphrasing and substitutions to completely hide his/her disfluency” (Anonymous)

o          “For some coverts, the ‘ability’ to successfully get around or flee fearful situations becomes an odd and perverse source of pride at the secret skill.” (Anonymous)

o         “When you successfully ‘flee’ a threatening situation there is an immediate sense of euphoria that it ‘it worked!’ However, in the immediate wake of that euphoria is a sense of diminishment and shame that follows.” (Anonymous)

o        “If there ever was a great mantra for coverts, ‘what a web we weave, when at first we attempt to deceive.’” (Anonymous)