Clinical Nuggets

Suggested by People Who Stutter

The following "nuggets" are provided by persons who stutter and may be helpful to others. They were extracted from various mailing lists.

An individual posted the following on the mailing list stutteringchat and it was answered by Jonathan Bashor, January 1, 2001:

In the past....I stuttered alot, almost on every word but I stuttered just for a few seconds. Lately my stuttering changed. It takes alot alot alot more time and I feel like i'm choking, even if I stop and start over.....I still end up stuttering the same on that sound or letter, so I end up stoping and starting over a few times. I stutter less, but when I do stutter, it takes up alot of time and stuggle...and I feel like Im choking....I just wonder if anyone knows..why did my stuttering changed and what causes soo much struggle and difficulties.

answer - I think I know what's going on, based on my own experience and from what I've read. You have developed an avoidance method which is called postponement. Strategies like stopping & starting over or backing up a few words are postponing the actual stuttering. One way to change this is to learn how to do what Van Riper called a pull-out. Go right into the word you expect to block on and stretch that first syllable until you can release it. You have to feel where the tension is at that moment and let up. I'm not saying this is easy to do. You might want to start practising on non-feared words first. This will not reduce the number of blocks you have, but over time it will reduce the struggle. What makes avoidance methods insidious is that they "seem" to work, and so a person will continue to use them. But, like me, a person can continue to add on more avoidances until the avoidances take more time than the actual stuttering, and that really stops the flow of communication.

Chinese finger puzzles, also called finger traps, can be used to demonstrate how struggle often makes things worse. They can be purchased online in the Novelty catalogue at Item #620, $1.50 Per Dozen - find under "finger trap"