- Everyone stutters, to some extent.
- You can toughen yourself up against yourself and listener reactions.
- You can own your speech and personality traits.
Everyone stutters, at least some. I started listening to my family, store clerks, radio announcers, even politicians. I was surprised to find that everyone stammers to some extent. I had the misconception that everyone else had perfectly fluent speech, except me.
I learned that I was on a spectrum or continuum of speaking styles. Others might call their speaking perfect, but it was not. I could see them trip over words, repeat, hesitate, add filler words, and the like. I heard stuttering! The biggest thing I saw was that people stammer some and it does not bother them at all.
Toughen Up! It bothered me a lot when I even made the slightest speaking mistake. I learned that I could toughen up. I did not have to be so sensitive to other people reacting to my speaking. I learned that I could shake off bad experiences. Speech therapists call this desensitization.
Sometimes, I even stutter on purpose, just to prove to myself that I have control over my speech. Therapists call this technique negative practice.
I learned not to relive the bad experiences so much. I still get embarrassed sometimes. I try not to let bad experiences get me down. I still worry about future speaking experiences. I try not to let it keep me from saying what I want or need to say.
Own your speech. Today, I strive for 80% speaking fluency. My speech is good enough today. My fluency goes up and down depending on the day, event, and my emotional or physical state. Some might not like that I do not strive for perfection or even excellence. From a child who could not even say his own name without contortions, 80% is great today. It allows me to live a good life.
As a stutterer, you might be perfectionistic, very sensitive, tend to overreact, and have low self-esteem, like me. Learn to deal with these traits. These traits are probably causing you other life problems, in addition to stuttering. As you deal with these traits, you might find much of your stuttering goes away all by itself.
Surprisingly, when I decrease my expectations of my speech, I do not stutter as much. I learned to dial down my speaking expectations to good enough, instead of perfect.
I still try to keep an open mind for ways to improve my speech. More importantly, I look for ways to speak easier. I also look for ways to reduce my reactions to speaking difficulties.
From a kid who would squeeze out each and every word, I now speak in public sometimes. I even speak in internet videos! My speech is good enough today.
For further information –
- Counseling Skills for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists By Lydia V. Flasher, Paul T Fogle – see section on Stuttering and Fluency Disorders
- The Stuttering Foundation® – http://www.stutteringhelp.org/
- American Institute for Stuttering (AIS) – http://www.stutteringtreatment.org/