Archives for December 2012

A Fear Of Answering The Telephone

I have tried to explain, on a number of occasions in the past, the fear that I used to have with regards answering the telephone. I tried to explain it to a couple of my friends, to a speech and language therapist and also to one of the members of my immediate family. How did they react?

Well they all reacted in pretty much the same way, they were rather shocked and looked at me like I was somewhat crazy. Fair enough I suppose, why should they be able to understand? I have also explained the fear to people who have attended one of my stuttering courses and guess what? Yes the majority of them could fully understand the way in which I felt.

Therefore if you are reading this post and do not have a stutter then you may well not fully realise or understand the way in which attempting to answer the telephone affected me.  So here it is; my fear of answering the phone during the period of my life when I had a stutter:

I will give an example of when I was aged eighteen which was back in 1991. I wonder how many of you will now go and work out how old I am, to save you the trouble I am aged 39! This was therefore way before the existence of mobile telephones and also think it was before answering machines if my memory serves me correct.

My parents along with my brother and sister were all out and I had been asked to leave any telephone messages on a notepad. I sat there hoping, of course, that the phone did not ring. I thought to myself that even if it did ring that I could just leave it to ring out.

But then I remembered that my Dad had stated that he was expecting an important telephone call and that if the person did call to then leave a message. My dad was always a massive help to me, as were all of my immediate family, and I therefore did not want to let him down.

Suddenly the telephone rang and therefore I went over to where it was placed in the room. At this stage people that do not have a stutter would simply pick up the phone and then answer it but that is not what I did. I just stood there shaking. Yes shaking!

My struggle to answer the telephone

Why? Well looking back I had perhaps just built it up too much by over thinking and worrying about it but to not do so is easier said then done. Answering the telephone and making a telephone call was something I avoided at all cost as I just had absolutely no confidence in my speech to be able to communicate in a fluent manner.

I compare the way in which I was back then to how my step daughter, who is eighteen years of age, is today – she spends many an hour talking to various people on her mobile phone – but then again what is the point of comparing her as a fluent person to myself back then who had a stutter? Yes no point at all.

Anyway back to the telephone ringing – despite my nerves and shakes I just knew that I had to answer it as explained previously. So I bravely picked up the receiver and attempted to say the word “Hello”. I must have sounded like an old man as I shakily said it.

And have a guess who was on the other end of the line? My DAD! Are you OK Steve, you seem a little out of breath? I was so relieved that it was him and my whole body then seemed to relax. I then spoke really well for the rest of the telephone call, how crazy is that?

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Why Can’t You Help Me?

Having a stutter was something that caused me a great deal of frustration.

This frustration was on many levels. To start with I was obviously frustrated that I was unable to speak fluently like the way in which my friends and family could.

I did not know anyone else that had this type of speech impediment and I therefore felt that I was somewhat unfortunate.

Why me? I often asked myself. Then there was the frustration that at times I could speak very well but that at other times I could barely say a word. I could not really comprehend as to why this would be. It could be because I was tired; it could be because I was anxious; it could be for many many reasons. What was clear was that I needed help and professional advice as to how to overcome it and as to how to be able to speak fluently in all situations and at all times.

Why can't anyone help me?

And what about the help that I was offered? Well this is where I found even more frustration. The people themselves were nice enough and they did try their best. These were mainly speech and language therapists who were there to assist me.

But could they really assist me in the way that I wanted them to? Absolutely not! Why not? This was back in the 1980’s and the 1990’s and looking back I can only think it was because of a lack of quality training.

At the time I was not so forgiving I guess and would return home feeling rather depressed. These people had a major lack of knowledge of what it was like to have a stutter and certainly did not believe that it could be overcome. This lack of knowledge and comprehension together with the negative attitude was most disappointing.

I was more than willing to work extremely hard to achieve fluency but I knew in my heart of hearts that these people could not help me to attain my goals.

This is why I eventually decided to attempt to find my own techniques to enable me to overcome the stutter. This was at the age of twenty and you can read about the approach that I took on this page of the Stuttering Therapy Centre website:

http://www.stutteringtherapycentre.co.uk/my-approach

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me, I am here to help.

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How To Stop Stuttering

 

I am regularly asked the following questions:

How do you cure a stutter?

Is there are a cure for stuttering?

How do you go about overcoming a stutter?

I am looking for how to stop stuttering techniques; can you help?

These were the same types of questions that I used to ask when I had this form of speech impediment. I eventually managed to achieve fluency when I was aged 22. But how did I go about it?

I took the approach that I had a faulty speech and that what I needed to do was to repair the faults. In my mind I compared the whole situation to my favourite sport of snooker. In my teens I would spend the majority of the evenings in my local snooker hall and I progressed quite well but not to the level of where I wanted to be.

I could not afford to pay for any snooker lessons and I was using a type of trial and error approach. But what I realised is that I would need to improve my overall technique if I were to ever be able to reach the levels that I desired.

This is when I decided to focus, watch and copy the technique of the person that I believed was the best snooker play of the time; namely Steve Davis.

I did this for many many months and would then practice what I had learnt from watching him. The progress was almost immediate and enabled me to achieve two breaks of over one hundred and to win many minor snooker tournaments. The main thing that held me back from progressing further was the fact that I am only 5ft 5 in height; where as to be a snooker professional you really need to be over 6ft tall due to the size of the table.

I loved playing snooker

At the age of 21 I asked myself what is more important to you Steve; snooker or stopping stuttering? The answer was of course stopping stuttering! I then said to myself that if I spent as much time working on overcoming the speech impediment as I did on playing snooker that I would surely improve and perhaps even be able to achieve total fluency.

So this is what I decided to do and I also decided to take a similar approach as to what I did with snooker; I started to focus, watch and copy the way in which people that I thought were very good speakers spoke. It was quite a slow process and progress was also far from quick however over time I realised where my faults lay and I also realised how to fix them – the rest as they say is history.

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