12/12/08

Voluntary Stuttering?

Voluntary stuttering is a technique that seems to be effective for some persons who stutter (pws). I have a diagram from a newsletter published by the Speak Easy International Foundation (233 Concord Drive, Paramus, NJ, 07652, 201-262-0895) titled Differences Between Involuntary (Real) Stuttering and Voluntary Stuttering. Real stuttering, in this diagram, involves a vicious circle of increased struggle and physical tension. The effects of real stuttering are diagramed as "increased struggle, real stuttering maintained, avoid word or situation, increased fear." Voluntary stuttering, on the other hand, is a circle of reduced physical tension, reduced struggle, and reduced involuntary stuttering. The effects of voluntary stuttering are diagramed as "word or situation completed successfully, increased confidence, reduced fear/tension/struggle and real stuttering diminished."

By the way, Speak Easy is a group that publishes a helpful newsletter, holds weekend retreats, and puts on an annual conference in N.J. I attended once and found it warm and informational. I was privileged to meet the late Marty Jeezer at this conference. I walked up to him quite in awe, shook his hand and introduced myself. He responded in a warm, gentle, friendly way that I would later discover again when he, Cynthia Scace, and I talked to a class of speech language pathology students at the University of Massachusetts. I digress deliberately because Marty was a beloved person in the stuttering community and his book A Life Bound Up in Words is a must-read for adults who stutter. You can read a short piece by Marty at http://mnsu.edu/comdis/kuster/pioneers/mjezer2005/martynsa.html . Also for adults interested in a support group, a Speak Easy event is an alternative to the large scale, roving convention put on by the National Stuttering Association.

Voluntary stuttering is done in a deliberate, gentle and controlled way. It is used primarily on words and sounds that are not feared by the pws. The point is not to induce real stuttering, though this is a risk. The point is to experience disfluency that is relaxed and controlled in order to desensitize to any fears that may snowball into anticipatory anxiety and contribute to avoidance. Peter Reitzes has a paper describing voluntary stuttering at http://www.mnsu.edu/comdis/isad8/papers/reitzes8.html.

Peter also has a You Tube video about speech tools at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8biSBPsoeg

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.