I’m so glad you are here!
Before you explore this site, I wanted you to have a birds eye view of how I approach the stuttering journey. Of course, this framework is highly customizable, and the details that fill it out are different from person to person. Enjoy! :
I view stuttering as just another part of who I am, not a problem to be fixed. I feel that a lot of the pain of the experience of stuttering is rooted in our desire to be fluent and our desperate attempts to pass as fluent.
It hasn’t been vert helpful for me and other people who stutter to restructure our expectations about our speech and self concept. Instead of wishing we were fluent people and struggling against our stutter, it is enormously helpful to give ourselves permission to stutter.
Let’s think about what stuttering is for a second. It is not only the repetitions, prolongations, and blocks in your speech. It is the struggle behavior you engage in when trying to get out of a moment of stuttering. It’s avoiding people and words and situations because you are afraid of stuttering in them. It is the shame you feel after moments of stuttering. In fact, the pure stuttering behavior may be the easiest aspect of your stuttering pattern.
Is this making sense?
By allowing yourself to stutter, you won’t be struggling against the stutter as much, and your moments of stuttering won’t be so tense.
You won’t be avoiding as many things because of fear stuttering.
And now that you have decided it is ok to stutter, you may not feel as many negative feelings like shame when you stutter.
You are not expecting to be fluent and seeing each moment of stuttering as a failure. You are expecting to stutter and viewing stuttering as just something you do. You are a person who stutters.
Starting a stuttering journey
First, monitor your stuttering.
What does your pattern look like? What do you do during moments of stuttering to try to get out of those moments (including blinking eyes, tapping your fingers, looking away, whatever you do.) Which situations and people and words doyou avoid because of stuttering?
When you pay attention like this, you will learn a lot about how you stutter and how you react to moments of stuttering, both while you are in these moments and when you are anticipating them.
React differently to stuttering
Then — maybe with the help of a speech language pathologist— you can learn how to change how you react to stuttering.
You now know how you usually react to moments of stuttering. Let’s say you learned that you blink your eyes heavily during stuttering. In the place of blinking your eyes, you can stutter on that word! Let go; see how your body wants to stutter.
It may sound ugly at first, and that is ok. It won’t always sound like this. Or maybe what you think sounds ugly now won’t always sound ugly to you.
You may try openly stuttering first with close friends or family members. It may take a while for you to become desensitized to hearing yourself stuttering, but stick with it!
At the end of the day, you probably aren’t going to eradicate secondary behaviors, or those behaviors (like heavy blinking), you engage in to avoid stuttering openly.
And that is ok too.
Although secondary behaviors are probably a reaction to society’s — and our own — pressure to be fluent, they are such a common reaction to stuttering, that I’d argue they are just another aspect of the stuttering experience. If we are truly going to embrace stuttering, we should embrace this aspect of the experience as well and be patient with ourselves.
React to stuttering differently
Don’t let it hold you back
Now that you are no longer struggling so much against your stuttering during moments of stuttering, begin to do those things you used to avoid because you were afraid of stuttering. Start with a less feared situation and, as gradually as you need, begin to challenge yourself with more difficult situations.
They say you can’t decide when you are going to to stutter, but you can decide how you will stutter.
Instead of reacting to each moment of stuttering the same old way, respond to each moment as a new experience, by allowing yourself to stay in that moment and stutter.
It may take a while to desensitize yourself to stuttering and that’s ok.
Also, although you will be more aware of the maladaptive ways you have been reacting to your stuttering, you may still exhibit some secondary behaviors and that is ok too! It’s all part of the experience of stuttering.
It’s also important to realize that although negative feelings like shame will likely be reduced now that your fear and avoidance of stuttering is reduced, you will likely still feel these feelings sometimes. And that’s ok too. You may feel as though you’d like to desensitize yourself to these feelings as well.
At the end of the day, you will decide what you want your stuttering journey to yield: spontaneous communication, less fear of stuttering, doing what you want despite stuttering, feeling comfortable in your own skin. This is your journey!
One more thing: It can be enormously helpful to go through this process with someone else, who can act as support and motivation. If interested, seek out a stuttering support group, like the National Stuttering Association or try to find group therapy. Attending stuttering support or self-help groups has been linked with a host of benefits for the stutterer. Take advantage of this experience!
Read some of my most recent posts:
Secondary Behaviors of Stuttering: How to Eliminate these Escape Behaviors
Help, I’m Stuck! How to Move Through Stuttering Blocks.
Voluntary Stuttering: This Powerful Tactic Will Improve Your Life.