Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘approaches to manage stuttering

Earlier this week, I had a chance to talk with someone I met through a virtual NSA event last year. It’s always invigorating to find out what others are doing to manage their stuttering, especially during these unprecedented times of virtual everything.

He remembered that I had expressed interest in learning about how a particular therapy went that he had considered.

He did the McGuire Program, which is not a therapy program per se, but is a speech management program run by past graduates of the program. I’ve interviewed several people over the years that have participated and many have felt it is beneficial. It’s an intensive four day program, that requires 10-12 hour commitments each day. My friend participated virtually, so it was only three days, but just as intense. He said it was 12-13 hours each day.

He shared why he chose to take the plunge to enroll and what he learned. As I’ve learned from other participants, it’s a technique based on costal breathing, which helps many people deliberately focus on speaking on exhaled breaths. It’s not for everybody, that’s for sure, but my buddy seemed grateful to have tried a different way of managing stuttering.

He said initially he was practicing 2-3 hours daily, but may have lessened up on that now. He also shared how pleased he is knowing he’ll have life time follow up and support from past graduates.

It’s so important to have a support system and a circle who really understands the complexity of stuttering.

I am so glad he reached out and that we took time to connect and talk.

Saying “let’s keep in touch” and then not, robs of us the opportunity to be there for our friends and truly walk the walk that “if you stutter, you are not alone”.

When someone calls or emails, answer the call. It’s important.

I’m a huge fan of the Netflix series “Orange Is The New Black,” about the lives of women in prison. It is well written and has great character development. In season two, and now in season three, we learn more about major characters through flashbacks.

We learn why Norma is mute in season three. This is a spoiler alert – if you’re a fan and are not up to season 3, episode 7 yet, don’t read any further! 🙂

Episode 7 reveals in a flashback scene that the reason Norma doesn’t speak is that she is a stutterer. We see her attempt to speak in a scene from her youth to a cult leader. When she stutters, the leader tells her she doesn’t need to speak around him – that he hears her. We then understand that she chooses not to speak thereafter.

Several times in season 3 we also see Norma pull out a notepad and write the words that she chooses not to speak.

What do you think? Has anyone ever considered selective mutism as a way to deal with stuttering? Or using a notepad to write what you want to say?

I’ve read that the famous James Earl Jones chose to be mute when he was a child because he stuttered. I believe he didn’t speak for a number of years. It wasn’t until a sympathetic high school English teacher encouraged him to recite poetry that he began speaking again. James Earl Jones credits reciting poetry with helping him manage his stuttering.

I heard James Earl Jones perform at a local venue here in Albany, NY about 8 years ago. He read from his own poetry and wowed the audience with his booming voice and his heartfelt words. He stuttered openly several times during his reading. It was a wonderful night that was in sharp parallel to his choice to silence his own voice many years ago.

I’ve never considered choosing to be mute to manage my stuttering. I want to be heard too much. What about you?

I participated today in a great conversation about all things stuttering on the weekly Wednesday Stutter Social hangout.

We were talking about stuttering with confidence and whether practicing our speech increases confidence.

A couple of people mentioned that they intently practice speaking every day for one to two hours, to themselves. This practice helps those particular individuals feel more confident when they are speaking to others.

One guy mentioned that sometimes after practicing and feeling more confident, when he is speaking with others that he actually forgets he stutters.

I did a double take and mouthed “what?” I couldn’t wrap my brain around this.

The facilitator of the hangout asked us to reflect on “forgetting that we stutter” and think of a time where we might have experienced this.

To be honest, my first instinct was, “Nope I have never forgot that I stutter.” For years I tried to hide my stutter. I dealt with the mental gymnastics of word substitution and avoidance,which was a constant reminder of stuttering.

Now that I no longer do that (mostly) and stutter openly – more on some days than others- I am reminded every day that I stutter. Sometimes those stuttering reminders come at the most inopportune times.

But after the hangout was over and I thought about this some more, I found myself thinking that I sort of knew what the guy meant. There are times when I am very fluent and if I have a stuttering moment, it’s not really noticeable. At those times, when I’m not thinking of stuttering, I can understand how you can actually forget about stuttering.

At these times that I am not thinking about stuttering, I am also not acknowledging it. Perhaps by not acknowledging it, for a brief time, we can actually forget we stutter.

What do you think? Can you fathom ever forgetting that you actually stutter?

I recently read the e-book What Stuttering Treatments Are Effective? by Thomas David Kehoe.

This is a survey of more than 200 scientific reviews of therapy approaches, mechanical devices or software and medication. Kehoe makes no attempt to state which approach is best. Instead, he just makes evidence-based research available for the reader in an easy-to-read manner. We are then free to draw our own conclusions.

This survey considers research and approaches from many different countries. The author also separates therapeutic approaches geared toward children who stutter from those geared more towards adolescents and adults who stutter.

Kehoe sprinkles in his own opinions of what has worked for him, and includes a review of a product manufactured by his own company, Casa Futura Technologies.

One of the reasons Kehoe offers this overview of scientific reviews is his concern that most non-profit stuttering organizations do not indicate on their web sites what types of therapeutic approaches are out there for consumers and SLPs. He also shares that at a recent stuttering conference, he heard a young adult comment that most speech therapy approaches are “hit or miss.”

The stuttering organizations do not include specific treatment information on their websites so that they don’t promote or favor one treatment approach over another.

Kehoe’s main premise is that there needs to be more dollars spent on stuttering research, so that consumers and professionals can choose approaches based on evidence based outcomes.

His work also includes testimonials from consumers who have used various approaches, although many happen to be reviewed by the same person (Paul from Norway.)

I have only personally participated in one type of therapy approach reviewed in this survey – traditional fluency shaping  – which I did not find helpful. I tried that for the first time as an adult in my 40’s.

Evidenced based research on stuttering treatment would be helpful if I was looking to invest time and money in a specific therapeutic approach today. There are so many different approaches advertised today, and not all can be trusted. Social media has given rise to increased scams and promises of “quick fixes” and “cures.”

If you are interested in a straightforward review of stuttering treatment approaches, you might find this helpful. And you might conclude, as I do, that more research is definitely needed in the area of stuttering treatment.

Episode 74 features Francine Draper, who hails from Riverside, California. Francine is currently a stay-at-home wife and mom, after a 15-year career in home sales.

Francine and I are both members of the forum/group Stuttering Chat, the largest internet group for people who stutter.

Francine actively contributed to a discussion about using medication for stuttering, a topic that drew a lot of interest.

Listen in as we discuss Francine’s early experiences with stuttering and traditional speech therapy, which didn’t really help her. Francine is gut honest as she discusses the stress she felt in her “in-home sales” job, and the desire to try something else to help her manage her stuttering.

Francine has been taking the medication Saphris for about a year. Saphris is an anti-psychotic drug used to treat bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia in adults.

She talks about the side effects she had at the beginning, working with her doctor to adjust dosing, and whether or not she really wants to take medication for the rest of her life.

I am most grateful that Francine was so open and honest about a very personal decision and shared her experiences with us.

The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.

Feel free to leave comments or questions. Feedback is a gift.

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Same protection applies to the podcasts linked to this blog, "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories" and "He Stutters: She Asks Him." Please give credit to owner/author Pamela A Mertz 2022.
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