Saturday, May 30, 2009

Open the suitcase and unpack-Stuttering baggage

I was just reading a post on a wonderful private practice list serve for speech pathologists. Someone described that an adult woman "stutterer" had been in therapy for years and wasn't progressing. It got me thinking how difficult it is to try and talk fluently. Another SLP wrote back about "change" and how difficult it is try and change the way you speak. In essence, as much as one might not like stuttering it defines them. So how did I do it?

How did I overcome a severe stuttering disorder? Do I have the magic? The answer is "no". I did it through unpeeling layers and layers of emotional baggage. I had to unpack the suitcase and lighten the baggage, BUT it started with intensive fluency shaping therapy and an intense desire to decrease stuttering. I remember being asked many years ago at a convention if there was a magic pill to be fluent, would I take it? My answer was always Yes, Yes, Yes!!

It takes years of practice, persistence, continuous speech therapy to decrease stuttering. The journey is long but has been worth it to me!!! Of course it would have been better to have worked on this baggage at the age of 6, but I didn't so I had to as an adult. Also, I have to say my parents always had the same expectations of me that they did for my brother, who does not stutter. I was never perceived as a stutterer in their eyes, so their support really helped me towards my goals.

Some words of encouragement if you find your fluency tools are not working:
Ask yourself:
Is this a feared situation?
Have I masssed practiced it?
If I have not had success before, why am I beating myself up now?
Am I too hard on myself?
What specifically in this situation is causing me so much fear?
Do I need more practice coordinating the muslce movements necessary for smooth connected speech?
Am I taking on residual air or comfortable diaphragmatic breathing?
Do I need the support of a speech pathologist?
Am I taking the time needed to go for speech therapy and practice?

Hope this helps. Please e-mail me at or visit my website at Also, if you are a grad student, please contact me if you have an interest in stuttering. Have a great day. Thanks for helping me unpack and spread the word that help is available. Also, look for my upcoming publication of "Teens and Stuttering" in a local parent magazine.

1 comment:

Pam said...

Totally like the new format! Good for you. And lots of labels. Keep an eye if that makes a difference. I am sure it will.

This was a good post. I have so much baggage I am still working on. It seems like every day I find something I either need to work on or I have realized for the first time. Coverts especially have baggage, and sometimes don't even know it.

I really wasn't aware of how deep my shame issues were, until I started talking and writing. It is indeed an incredible journey.