Creating A Habit Of Fluent Speech

There’s an argument to be had that stuttering is a creature of habit. The more you stutter the less chance you have of undoing it. That’s one of the reasons for early intervention in children who stutter. Speech therapy is sought, advice and techniques put into practice, and most of the time, the stutter undoes itself.

When it continues into adulthood though, it’s not such an easy habit to kick. Nor is any habit for that matter.

Here’s something to think about though…

There are situations, and you know there are, when you can speak fluently. The only time that doesn’t apply is when the stutter is not psychological, as in it has an underlying cause such as you developed the stutter as a result of brain injury. That’s a physical problem and not a force of habit.

For those with the psychological problem, when you sing; it’s gone. When you act; it’s gone. When you talk to your dog; it’s gone and so too is it gone when you talk to yourself.

Any of those things you do when you speak and there’s no fear of judgment like what happens when you get stage fright speaking in front of others.

For that reason, the best thing for you to do is take downtime and every day.

Take a time out for yourself to speak to yourself, your pet, or even sing along with your favourite tunes.

Give yourself an hour, or even just a half hour of me time. Take that time to speak as you do naturally without fearing observation. The only person around to judge is you, and in those instances, the anxiety ease is enough to allow you to speak more freely and smooth.

The more you speak with a smooth transition, the better you’ll get at it.

Read Aloud Daily

Rehearse a poem, a speech, or read jokes aloud.

What you do can become you.

That’s why it’s important you take the time out you need to understand you better.

When you’re speaking, you’ll begin to understand your own stuttering cues. It could be that one of your habits when you get nervous is your tongue gets trapped at the ridge of your mouth. Or your jaw muscles tense to the extent you can’t pronounce a word. Whatever the habit is, it’s a facial problem and that carries over into your mind.

You begin to believe that it’s just something you do and accept you have no control over how you speak. Truth is; you do. And that’s proven to yourself when you can speak fluently to a pet when nobody else is listening. The same when you sing a song

Understand your stutter in terms of what, when and where.

• What causes you to trip on certain words and what are those words?

• When does it seem to get worse, and when do you speak better?

• Where on your face do your muscles tense?

Understand your speech habits better and you can make a start at adjusting them.

You aren’t changing you when you choose to alter your speech. You’re only changing your attitude to a can do one, so even if your speech doesn’t immediately improve, your attitude will. Since attitude has a lot of control over your mind, a natural side effect of the PMA (positive mental attitude) is that you begin to speak better.

The power of influence is one of the most powerful there is and there’s no more so than understanding your cues that trip you up on certain words because when you know that, you know what to focus on to improve your speech.

Image courtesy of awornpath.blogspot.com.

Resources To Get You Through A Rough Patch Of A Stuttering Nightmare

I do not like to start on a negative however at the time of writing this post there is no known cure for stuttering.

Chronic depression is treatable, your stutter may not be curable but it’s most certainly manageable.

For those of you who are worried about your little ones speech, only worry if he or she is older than seven years of age. Kids often develop a stutter as toddlers and 80% of them self-heal. It’s gone by the age of seven. After that, speech therapy should be on the cards, and you should be a part of it.

For those out of the education system and looking for other forms of therapy, for either yourself, or a loved one, there are many types of stuttering programs. Since the speech impediment begins at a young age, and in 20% of cases, continues into adulthood, the onus is on the person with a stutter to look into therapy options.

Some include:

• Fluency shaping

• Speech modification

• Integrative approaches using both the above methods

• Breathing techniques

• Self therapy, where you practice speaking better

With decades of studies and research into speech progression, there’s yet to be a cure found. Therapy works but rebounds happen. Therefore, it can require years of extensive therapy and repeatedly.
When the going gets tough though, take a little breather and that’s not in the sense or diaphragmatic breathing. It’s when you bring in a compromise and put a half-hearted effort into it.

• Speak with a rhythm

• Vary your tempo

• Voluntarily stutter

When you feel you’ve hit rock bottom

Find a local self-help group and get support from people who have been where you are.

The British Stammering Association operates groups nationwide. Find the one nearest you here.

For those between the ages of 18 and 30, The Young British Stammering Association Group is a where you can turn to on Facebook. It is a closed group, so you do have to log in and request to join. Once you join, since the group is closed, your comments, discussions, and questions are not publicly shared with your friends.

Although US based, Friends.com isn’t going to be of help to you as they don’t work within the UK, they do have great podcasts available on StutterTalk.com you can listen to and find a great deal of inspiration, and motivation from.

Find the list at http://stuttertalk.com/category/2015-friends-convention.
Inspiration

On the note of inspiration, when you need something other than cat videos to cheer you up, there’s Daniele Rossi of www.stutteringiscool.com, however, you may find it’s more relaxed and connected on his SIC Facebook page.

There’s also the Stuttering Community Page on Facebook, but if you aren’t on social media, or just don’t want to be, you aren’t forced to use the site. http://stutteringcommunity.com is their forum board.

You can also email info@stutteringtherapycentre.co.uk to reach me if you want to ask any questions or just vent. I’ve been through it and come out the other side. You can read the story here.

When you’re just tired of it all – Run for the hills

Seriously, take yourself outside for a walk among nature. Silence is golden, the air is better in the countryside, and if you have a huge hill you can walk up, get up there and just scream. Let it all out; come back down again composed and refreshed to pick up where you left off, only with a clearer mind to go through some of the resources listed above.

What A Depressed Stutterer Can Do To Survive

It’s a well known fact that stuttering and depression are two related conditions. If you hate how you speak, you are going to try to avoid speaking. That leads to isolation and that leads to depression. Fact!
That fact raises the question over what form of therapy would be best for you?

Psychologists or a speech therapist?

A psychologist and other members that make up mental health teams will not be able to help you speak better. Likewise, a speech therapist cannot tackle the work that a psychologist would do.

So what are you to do about your stutter?

You need to know what the real problem is before you can steer yourself in the right direction or speak to your GP about what your real problem is.

For some people, the real problem is just the fact they want to speak better. Every person who stutters will feel that like that. However, for some, depending on the severity, speaking will not help them progress towards getting more out of life if they’ve felt forced into captivation. Living a life of isolation and going out of your way to avoid speaking completely.

Depending on your career choice, you may even find your career an impossibility to chase. An example of that would be the teaching profession. Students aren’t discriminated against so you could you do all the training required to get your qualifications, but asides from discrimination being illegal, it’s still going to be tough to get hired over another person, qualified to the same level as you but who can speak without a stutter.

To find yourself in that situation, the natural instinct would be to tackle the speaking problem and speak to a therapist for advice on controlling the stutter and stopping it from getting in the way of your career.

On the other hand, if you have no qualifications and no career direction, you’ll be missing a sense of direction. Jumping from one dead end job to the next and applying for positions that perhaps don’t require talking to people.

The direction you take your career in is heavily dependent on your competence in communication. If you don’t feel good about yourself, then communication will always be difficult. Therefore, in that case, you’ll want to address the mental barrier that’s preventing you from tackling the cause of the problem.

You need to feel at one with yourself before you can start tackling improvement. If you feel worthless, your stutter is not your problem. It is your feelings about the stutter that needs addressed.

Depression and stuttering go hand in hand

Assess your mental needs and progress

Mental health must always come before your desire to speak better. The reverse may help you achieve better speech but it will not give you the confidence you need to speak comfortably without hesitation.

For adults who stutter, when it happens it is often accompanied with negativity based on experiences we could all do without. As much as you’ll hear to leave the past in the past and focus on the future, we all know it’s not as easy as that. Those experiences are what shape our adult lives, and it’s never as easy as flicking a positivity switch.

To move forward, it’s best to focus on reaching a stage where you’re happy with life. If you’re able to go out, socialise with friends, get a job, and go to the office parties without fear of ridicule, then it’s likely you have a good support network around you to focus on improving how you speak.

Your mental health must always come first. That positive mindset will help you reach a stage where you have very good friends around you and people who get you. Those people will be instrumental in helping you speak with a degree of confidence and even speak using different practices until you find a form of speaking that works for you to communicate better.

There will of course be some people who need a mixture of both, so if you’re finding yourself battling depression, stuck on anti-depressants and attending appointments with mental health teams, it may help to speak to them about getting a speech therapist involved to tackle the root cause of the problem. If you’re perfectly healthy with a desire to speak better, then that’s when to approach self help or a speech therapist, but until the foundations are there to support your self-improvement efforts, you’re likely to find it difficult without a good balance of both types of support in place.

Emily Blunt Discusses Her Stutter With Howard Stern

Occasionally there’s a celebrity that hits the spotlight and openly discusses their personal history and usually a battle with a stutter. This week, it was the turn of Emily Blunt as she discussed stuttering in an interview with Howard Stern.

You can listen to that interview here.

What I found intriguing when listening was that I really couldn’t tell that she had a stutter. There’s just so much fluency and confidence in her voice that it was mesmerizing. As I listened to the interview, here are a few things that got my ears perked

1) That one in four women stutters

2) That stuttering is hereditary

3) That stuttering resurfaced for Emily when she was heavily pregnant

The first one – stuttering statistics are only numbers. It really doesn’t matter how many women versus men have a stutter. Genetics in that respect have nothing to do with your speech.

The second point raised, the jury’s still out on that one. While there are plenty of references citing this as hereditary, the reality is that it’s only a link. There is no specific gene someone inherits that will eventually affect how he or she speaks.

The third point though – that really grabbed my attention, because as a guy, I have no idea what happens to your diaphragm when you’re pregnant. When Emily mentioned this, it got me thinking about the breathing techniques that can be used to somewhat control a stutter. All it does is control how you speak to a certain extent, but it’s never really going to eradicate it. Just help you control it.

As the interview went on, it turned out Emily’s stutter was present since the age of seven, becoming increasingly problematic by the age of twelve. Her teacher had noticed when she acted, she spoke without the stutter, so that’s clearly been something of an influence on her career. This is apparent in both singing careers and acting careers. As her teacher had mentioned, the stutter wasn’t there when she assumed the role of a character.

What also became apparent, which I had some knowledge about was that there are more actors out there with the exact same speech problem. One name that came up in the conversation was Bruce Willis. Turns out, that’s (perhaps) why he’s a man of few words and you’ll rarely see him surface for interviews. As Emily mentioned, she had asked him to speak at a Gala she does every year, and he declined because he’s anxious that the stutter will surface.

…Which brings me around to the difference between Emily Blunt and Bruce Willis. Bruce still struggles with his speech, whereas Emily is very capable of speaking at interviews without being disrupted by the stutter.

The only issue she seems to have trouble with now is telephone communication. She couldn’t have described the problem any better than she did.

The problem defined as: “Pressure to communicate only with your voice”.

The struggle to speak fluently when using the telephone

The struggle to speak fluently when using the telephone

If you find the phone is hampering your speech, may I suggest you try the mirror technique discussed here.

Another part of that interview made me realise just how fortunate us Brits are here with our NHS and speech therapy for all our kids. As Emily mentioned about the Gala she does annually, it turns out that’s to raise funds for kids for scholarships to access stuttering treatment.

As that interview concluded, one thing that stood out was a comment about avoidance. People that have a stutter and Emily included herself in this – come up with avoidance tactics. Quite the blanket statement, but nonetheless, are you still using avoidance tactics?

There are effective ways to control your stutter without avoiding it. You can find many tips around the blog here, or if you want to discus speech modification in more detail, I welcome you to contact me.

3 Corrective Speech Mistakes That Can Make You Look Dumb

How many stuttering courses have you been on, each giving you different tactics to overcome your stutter?

For adults who stutter, there’s every chance you’ve tried and failed at using these corrective speech methods. For those of you thinking of trying any program to correct your speech and give you total fluency, look out for these methods, because they will in all likelihood, set you back instead of progressing you towards your goal of fluency.

Why does nobody understand what it is like for me?

I’ve been through numerous courses between the ages of four and twenty-two and I can tell you that these methods are not anything I want to be associated with because they would have made me look completely dumb among my peers.

That’s why I studied, evolved and developed my own plan of attack to reverse the disruption to my own speech. The speech rules continue to be effective today because none of my students ever have to feel dumb by using any of these methods.

The 3 Proclaimed Cures to Stop Stuttering

1. The costal breathing technique

If you’ve not heard of this before, look it up on YouTube. Some of you may laugh at how ludicrous this approach appears, while others may be persuaded to try it.

In all honesty, of all the sharp-witty speakers I’ve come across, studied and followed for years, I have never come across any speaker, public or not, who takes deep sharp breaths before they speak. It’s completely unnatural and will have people wondering what in God’s name you’re doing breathing in such a manner.

They’d appreciate you stuttering more as opposed to witnessing you turn into some freak with a breathing problem.

Then there’s this one…

2. The deliberate stuttering technique

Not as elaborate as the first one listed, but still just as crazy. If there’s ever a motto for any person with a stutter to live by – it’s this…

You are what you do

It’s another way of saying practicing makes perfect, therefore; if you’re to tread down this path, you’re going to perfect your stutter, which is the complete opposite direction you want to be going and that’s to reach a stage of fluency.

And then there’s the age old favourite among stuttering curers (more like cursers)…

3. The slowed speech technique

If you haven’t figured this part out yet in your quest for better speech, there are differences between following tips and using tricks. Tips are there to help you better correct your speech, whereas tricks are generally avoidance tactics.

The slowed speech method is nothing more than a trick because by its very nature it is tricking you into believing you’re doing something productive to reach your end goal of fluency.

It will not happen, because the slower you speak, the more conscious you’ll be of the words you say.

A More Positive Approach You Can Take – Starting Today

Study the speaking patterns of those in the spotlight. Tune into parliamentlive.tv and watch how debates are put forward by public speakers. Watch the live news and witness the moments that those alleged fluent speakers actually aren’t. Even pro speakers hit stumbling blocks in their speech patterns.

When people speak with fluency, the words flow without thinking. The brain knows the words to say and fluent speakers can therefore turn their attention towards how they say things. They use pitch, they use body language and they use natural breathing (not costal). So you can take from that – for you to mimic the fluency of the other 99% of the population who aren’t affected by a stutter, then learn the natural way they speak.

They don’t give a second thought to problematic words. They will at times get tongue tied.

Want to force someone into understanding how you feel when you stutter?

Tell them to say “Greek Grapes” three times.

Or write this on the back a business sized card and hand it to them. (For the life of you, don’t try to say this to show off as it’s highly likely to backfire).

“If two witches were watching two watches, which witch would watch which watch?”

Ask them to have a go at saying that.

Or any of the other tongue twisters listed on the British Council website.

The point is that nobody has perfect speech. 100% fluency will never be achieved. Natural speech on the other hand – CAN! The closest to complete fluency is the ability to say what you want naturally. Speak your mind without having to think of the easiest words to pronounce.

If you want to have a go at correcting your speech without using tactics that can make you look dumb, then may I please invite you to contact me. I’ve been helping students live without stuttering since 1998. Workshops take place in Birmingham, UK, weekly, and each of these products have helped students internationally.

Either that, or go learn things from the Blog of the Stuttering Therapy Centre.

For example:

3 Ways To Confront Your Stuttering Fears

If you fear your stutter, there’s a few ways to confront them.

Or perhaps you’ve yet to discover whether you’ve been trying to modify your speech or shape your fluency. Neither is better than the other but a hybrid approach using different techniques will help you retain as much fluency and prevent you from relapse:
The Difference Between Fluency Shaping And Stuttering Modification

Or at least go read about Mike aka Dave and discover how he managed to reclaim his name.

Steve Hill

0121 453 9208 / 07967 549 070

Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

3 Ways To Confront Your Stuttering Fears

Taking control of your stutter is the only way you are going to stop it from dominating your life. The only way to progress and manage your speech efficiently is to confront your fears directly. For most of you reading this, that’s going to sound terrifying, but the truth is that it doesn’t have to be.
Especially when you heed the advice in the first of three to follow…

1) Customer service reps are your secret weapon to better speech

One thing no customer service rep can do is be unprofessional. Use that to your advantage and open up communication with them. It doesn’t matter whether you’re picking up groceries from Asda, or looking for a new laptop at Currys.

Every store will have either store assistants, customer service reps, or sales assistants. They are employed to respond to customer inquiries. You’re a customer so they are obliged to help you and some are great at it. They will always listen to what you have to say. It’s what they’re paid by their employer to do. Listen to you.

Before you buy anything, think of a question related to it. It could be that you’re in the supermarket that you ask where to find such and such a product. Or it might be that you need to ask for assistance at the self-service checkout. You know how those machines can be; unexpected item in the bagging area.

In fact, if you want to create a situation that forces you to speak to someone, put your wallet or purse on the bagging area. It will register the added weight, as though you’re sticking something in the bag that hasn’t been scanned. Someone won’t be long in coming over to you. By which point, you have to explain what happened and it’s usually laughed off. It happens all the time.

Any store you go into, think of a question related to the product you’re buying and ask a rep of the company for advice. Put your question to them. A day in the town could give you a catalogue of insights into your speaking behaviour.

2) Call for your own take-away

Stop asking your partner or parents to call pizza for you. Take the plunge, pick up the mobile or your phone’s handset, dial the number, and ask for what you want. If you’re truly embarrassed about how you sound on the telephone, get a friend to answer the door when your food arrives.

Take action using the phone

You are best not to do that though, because when the delivery arrives, you have another opportunity to challenge your fears head on, by speaking to the person delivering the take-away.

You get a double opportunity; the first on the telephone to place your order and the second in person with the delivery driver.

3) Ask a taxi driver for directions

Whenever you go into town, think of the name of a shop near to the taxi rank. Ask the taxi driver for directions to get to it. It may be in the shopping centre, or it could be further up/down the high street. Despite you knowing where it is, it’s only about opening your mouth to speak something.

The only reason we say taxi drivers are good for this is because they’re accustomed to speaking to people with a variety of dialogues. Some speak professional (call them posh if you like), some speak casual, and some like you will stutter. Taxi drivers are well accustomed to speaking with people with a range of accents, and even speech problems. They won’t be taken aback if you suddenly stutter.

By thinking about what you want to ask first, you’ll be able to rehearse things in your mind, approach with confidence and tell someone what you need to know. It’s much better to do this when you don’t really need to know the directions, because the time will come when you do really have to ask for them. When that time comes, you will be thankful for the experience. The only thing you cannot do if you’re using this approach is go into town everyday and ask for the same directions every time.

The drivers will get wise and may even wonder what is wrong with you. If you find yourself feeling that you’re over exhausting this method, just ask complete strangers on the high street.

To put any of those three ideas to use, you need to know how to set up your own stutter friendly environment…

This one’s simple because it only involves introducing yourself and your problem.

Hi there, my name’s ___ I’m a stutterer and I’m trying to improve my speech. Could you tell me where to find, or bear with me I’m a stutterer, trying to improve my speech… I’d like to order, or whatever question you have.

Give yourself the opportunity to speak with people. Any person will do because every interaction is an opportunity to address your fear of stuttering in public and that will bring you closer to managing your stutter.

Confront your fears head on by opening your mouth and speaking to people. Society is far more understanding than you might imagine.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What A Single Mirror And Telephone Can Do To Improve Your Speech

One of the best skills a stutterer can master is advertising. Not in the traditional sense but with respect to letting others you speak to know you have a stutter.

Closet stutterers have a nightmare of a challenge to get through life trying to pretend they’re fluent speakers. That’s a trap you don’t want to put yourself in because it will have you bowing your head with embarrassment, avoiding communication completely, and generally struggling with life.

Not a good place to be, so to avoid you reaching that place, or get out of it if you’re embroiled in the pretend fluency trap, you need to adopt a healthy attitude towards having a stutter and recognise it’s a personality trait and not a personality disorder.

It is challenging, but it’s also socially acceptable more now than it ever has been.

Openly advertising a stutter is difficult for anyone, however, it is easier done when you maintain eye contact. That’s key to good communication and every effective speaker uses it. Use it to your advantage so that your listener can emphasise with you and not try to contradict your intellectual ability.

By maintaining eye contact, empathy is established, but if you aren’t comfortable enough to advertise your stutter yet, then use the telephone and a mirror to get comfortable.

Call on your friends for support or your parents if you need to. Just get talking on the phone; when you do, stand in front of a mirror and maintain eye contact with yourself. Do not judge your speech in the process, and if you hit a block, ride it out. Keep your eye on your eyes, and don’t bat an eyelid.

Telephone

The more comfortable you are to speak on the telephone and maintain eye contact with yourself, the more success you’ll have at maintaining eye contact in a real person conversation; whether it’s a telephone call, video conference, or a conversation with someone at a networking event, or even with your colleagues at work.

Maintain eye contact and don’t rush your way through speaking. People may be far more emphasising of your speech predicament than you give them credit for.

Perception can be crueller than people.

Self-evaluation of your speech often leads you down a crazy path of worrying about what people may or may not think of you. Usually, your own perception is negative, when in reality, the people you speak with everyday think you’re the coolest, most intelligent person they know.

It’s amazing how much self worth stutterers put out of their reach.

If you’re finding it difficult to communicate, get the phone out, speak in front of the mirror, and keep your eyes on your eyes.

If you need to say to whoever is on the phone, just a second, then carry on with what you intended to say, they won’t badger you to get the words out. Besides, talk is cheap nowadays. It’s not like someone is calling you at a rate of 50p per minute and going to tell you to just spit it out to save their phone bill. Most times, local calls are free, or their included in mobile bundles.

Take whatever self-image you have of yourself and work to improve that. Too often, stutterers put themselves down when in reality; people do understand what you’re trying to say.

Frustration keeps the stutter rising to the surface. Take the frustration out the equation by bringing empathy into the conversation and you’ll soon find communication becomes far easier.

Start with a telephone, a mirror, and a call to an understanding friend.

It’ll do you the world of good.

 

The Battle To Cure Stuttering May Be Self Sabotaging Your Efforts

The majority of adult stutterers have had this problem for the majority of their life. The vast proportion of their adult life is spent seeking out self-help therapy, or even attending speech therapy sessions in an attempt to achieve fluency.

Not every method works for everyone and that’s why for those who have tried and failed to develop speech fluency, sometimes multiple times; simultaneously develop this internal negative attitude that they have to accept the speech problem for what it is, and live with it.

You don’t.

Your belief system is shot when you experience failure multiple times at anything. If at first you don’t succeed, try again. However, when you do try again, self-belief is the most powerful weapon you have. You must believe it is possible to achieve fluent speech.

With every failure, there is always knowledge.

You will learn more about your speech patterns the more you study your own speech. When you understand your speech pattern, you’ll be able to identify your stop words, starter words, and even safe words.

There are some stutterers who know their safe word is perhaps ‘see’ and when they hit a stumbling block, they will revert to the safe word to help with pronunciation of the stop word.

This can be useful in the short-term for getting you out of a messy communication predicament but eventually you will come to realise that you need to let go of certain word safety issues, because that is what will keep you practicing controlled stuttering.

Controlled stuttering is a method that fits well with most adult stutterers because the problem has been with them from a very young age. They reach the stage of accepting the problem, and seeking out coping strategies to communicate more efficiently.

Controlled speech provides a level of comfort and since you aren’t trying to cure the stutter, failure is not an option. You’re only making it easier to speak.

The easy option is always the first choice, but to really have any chance at achieving fluent speech, you need to master self-competition. Stop looking up success stories on YouTube, and the miracle stories reported in the press. The only success happens when people take an individual approach to overcome stuttering.

No stutterer is the same, which is why there are always a percentage of those in therapy classes who won’t succeed. Especially when in a group environment as deep down, despite it not being the class intention; people compete against each other to better their speech.

They self compare. The only comparison to your speech progression is you. Only you can strive to better yourself. Commit to learning more about your speech patterns, read, write, listen, learn, and speak what you have written down. The only way you will ever guarantee failure is just not to try in the first place, and that’s the safety net some people reach.

Self progression

Because of the relative safety of not trying, a vast amount of people have developed their personalities around their stuttering behaviour. It allows them to lighten up, use starter words, stoppers and control mechanisms that keep them in the relative safe-harbour of controlled speech.

That will get you through life, but it will not help you propel to someone greater. Someone with a strong internal belief of what’s possible will always be able to reach their aspirations.

It takes self-commitment, self-study, and self-belief. The only person who can help you master fluent speech is you. The power rests in your court. Every other technique, program, or self-help stuttering group are only there to provide you with support, guidance and mentoring. Nobody can change you though. Only you can do that and it begins by self-educating yourself on your speech patterns, and then taking measures to combat the problematic ones.

If you believe it isn’t possible and are seeking out a cure for stuttering, you’re looking in the wrong places. You first need to build your self-esteem, master positive thinking, change your attitude, and then correct your speech.

The beliefs you have may be what is self-sabotaging your efforts to reach fluency. It is possible, and it starts with a positive attitude and accepting the change.

Shape Your Future With The Belief Of Fluency Being Achieved

For nearly every adult stutterer, there’s an aspect of the belief system that causes interruptions, and blockages affecting your speech pattern.

• You believe you are going to stutter, you stutter.

• You believe that if you do stutter, there’s going to be a consequence (feeling embarrassed etc).

• You believe that if you don’t find a stuttering cure, that somehow, your life will be worse

There are no miracle cures, but there is a path for everyone to travel in search of fluency.

What path are you taking right now, long or short?

You’re reading this, so you’re obviously aware that you have a stutter, or maybe one of your friends is feeling down about the cards they’ve been dealt in their life. Whatever the reason is that you’re here, it is part of a journey.

A learning journey one which the majority of people who stutter go through. It’s a path and it is different for each of us. For some it’s like climbing Mount Everest, for others it’s a short path.

The path to overcoming a stutter

Some people have a minor speech problem, for which just a couple of modifications to their speech can help them speak fluently. For others, the path is a much a longer journey.

For me, mine was a long journey. It took me until I was 22 to finally kick the emotional baggage to the kerb, push through, and discover what worked for me.

That experience throughout that journey has in many ways shaped my life for the better. I found methods that worked for me, and as such I shared them with fellow stutterers to feel the same sense of accomplishment I did and do.

There is no better feeling than when you’ve travelled your path and reached your final destination; the place in your life when you can speak openly about what’s on your mind, without the fear of speaking interrupting your thought process.

Along your journey to fluency, you are going to be reading much more information as you visit a number of websites, read research papers, and probably scientific studies along the way.

Stuttering has a lot of confusion surrounding it. For every one person who tells you the ultimate cure to stuttering, someone else will tell you it is trash.

I certainly do not claim to have a cure, but I do have methods to control the stutter, and it’s what continues to help my students around the world.

There is no cure for it so you cannot swallow a magic pill and be rid of the problem. The only medications you will find will be those designed to reduce your anxiety levels. They will not work to give you fluent speech. They’ll just reduce the anxiety you feel before you speak.

Depending on where you are in your journey, you may have already learned that lesson but there is a key message I want you to leave here and always remember.

How you think affects your speech

Negative thinking has severe consequences and it will affect the path you take to reach your destination of achieving fluency.

The more negative you feel about yourself, the longer your path will be.

If you think you can’t apply for a job because you fear stuttering will get in your way at the interview, you’ll stick yourself in a dead end job and be bitterly disappointed for the rest of your life.

If you perceive your stutter as a curse, it will be detrimental to your journey. You’ll avoid situations, you’ll experience high levels of anxiety and to some extent, a degree of social phobia can manifest.

However, by shaping your thinking, you can shape your future. See yourself at the end of your journey. Using positive affirmations, and positive visuals, such as imagining yourself standing in front of a crowd at your best friend’s wedding and delivering the ultimate speech that has the crowd laughing with you and not at you.

The power of your thinking can never be underestimated. When you think positive, you speak with a degree of confidence. It’s that confidence you need to display as you travel your path to fluency. Believe you can and you will. Believe you can’t and you will never be able to deal with it.

Setbacks will happen along your journey and when they do, see it for it is; a setback, a minor one and part of your journey.

There are likely to be times you feel you’ve achieved fluency, and something will cause it to come back again. That will raise doubt in your mind that you’ve perhaps done something wrong and developed a false sense of security.

Just remember the very first time you can speak comfortably without stuttering, you have reached your destination. When you do, remember the path you took to get there, because if a relapse happens, you’ll have the life experience of already travelled that path and reached your destination.

That way, if a setback does happen and you do relapse, you do not start the path from the beginning. Much of the journey will already have been travelled and explored, and you’ll have your resources that you find along the way that will help shortcut that path from a long journey to a short one back to fluency.

It’s my hope that the resources here will be part of your journey and help you take the shorter path to fluency, rather than spend longer than you need to by travelling the long road alone.

You aren’t alone and you will find that out along your journey. You’ll find plenty of support groups, some online, some offline. You’ll meet many people along the way and develop strong friendships with the people you meet.

A stutter is not a curse. It’s part of your character. Stuttering has no negative consequences on your health. As German Philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche once said, that which does not kill us, makes us stronger.

How A Dog Can Be Every Stutterer’s Best Friend

You’ll have heard the saying that a dog is man’s best friend, right? To take that further, a dog more specifically, is every stutterer’s best friend.

You see, the stutter is psychological, so for as long your brain believes you have a stutter, you will have it. The key to pushing past that and onto fluent speech is to create enough of the positive speaking memories for your brain to believe that you can actually speak normally.

And believe me… you can!

You just need a pet. Any pet, because they can’t speak back and they do not judge. Well, maybe they do, but they can’t ridicule you, or pass judgement like humans can.

Pets are tremendous emotional stress busters for stutterers. You’ll notice that when you’re alone with an animal, you’ll be able to speak more naturally and fluently.

Stressed lady

It’s because you do not fear being ridiculed or judged. That’s a rarity for any stutterer to experience and the longer you have the speech impediment, the more likely you’re going to be experiencing high anxiety bursts when it comes to speaking to people.

For that reason, set some time aside each day to speak to your animal. Just make sure it’s not a parrot because if you speak to a parrot and frequently stutter, it’s going to remind you of that constantly!

That will have the opposite effect and confirm to your brain that you do actually have a problem.

Speak to an animal that won’t back chat.

What happens when you do this regularly is that you are creating positive memories of normal speech behaviour. The stutter, for psychological ones anyway, is just a habit. It’s problematic to break but it’s definitely not impossible.

When you aren’t doing the speaking exercise, you need to always be thinking about fluent speech. A fundamental aspect of the brain that many people don’t account for is the fact that as smart as anyone may be, the brain can never tell the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined.

That’s why meditation and positive affirmations and the like work. If you’re feeling down, you can speak a few affirmations and your mood and outlook will change. You can close your eyes, imagine yourself at the beach, use visualisation exercises and other imaginary stimulants and you can get to a stage where your sense of smell picks up the scent of being on a beach.

Your brain’s a fool!

That’s good news for you because it means you can trick it into believing your speech is perfect. The more you practice, the more believable the scenario becomes. Before you know it, the words you’re used to stuttering over will flow from your mouth without a second thought. It’s only after you’ve said it that you’ll be dumbfounded that you actually managed it.

Of course, this is going to take some time for it to begin working, but the best part is the fact that each day that you are practicing your speech, you get quality time with your pet, where you can sit and experience that peaceful conversation that may only be a distant dream to you just now.

There’s something therapeutic about pets, and you can only experience it for yourself when you have a dog, cat, gerbil, or any other animal you can sit and have a conversation with.

You don’t even need to have a pet. You can talk to yourself if you like. No shame in that, as long as you don’t start answering yourself back!

The only thing that matters is that you get alone time every day to practice speaking without the fear and anxieties of speaking with people. It’s only around people that stutterers usually find their speech problematic. Take away the pressure and the result is near fluency.

That takes you closer to fluency through consistent practice of non-anxious speaking. To the point that your brain believes that you don’t have a speech problem and word by word, your speech will improve.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net