Just Take A Deep Breath
Posted December 31, 2015on:
It’s funny the advice people who don’t stutter give to those of us who do stutter. Like they know the answer and can solve our stuttering problem for us. If it was as simple as just taking a deep breath, all of us who stutter would already be doing that.
I had this advice given to me the other day when I was talking to a medical receptionist over the phone. The woman was impatient and I was having a really stutter-y day. When she asked me a question, I blocked on something and then had a couple of repetitions. She asked me if everything was OK.
I decided to tell her I stutter. I said something like, “everything’s fine. I just stutter. Please bear with me.” It was then that she said, “that’s OK. Just take a deep breath.”
I certainly know she meant no harm. In fact, she had lost her impatient tone and actually sounded like she was trying to be helpful. I didn’t tell her that advising someone who stutters to take a deep breath isn’t really helpful. I felt that would have been rude. I just continued on with the brief conversation and left it at that.
I know for many people who stutter that practicing breathing techniques actually does help with their control of stuttering. It is a technique taught in some fluency shaping programs and seems to be the mainstay of the popular UK McGuire program. Slowing rate and speaking on exhaled breaths does help for some.
But the random advice to take a deep breath usually does not help in the stuttering moment. It definitely does not help me. It just reminds me of how much stuttering is misunderstood by those who don’t stutter.
I’m glad I advertised in my encounter with the receptionist over the phone. That empowers me. Maybe next time I’ll go with the flow and take a deep breath and see if it helps at all. 🙂