This is a blog by Judith V. Butler, M.A., L.L.C., Licensed & Certified Speech Language Pathologist, ASHA Board Certified Specialist in Fluency/Retired. This blog is Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licensed. (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
Some thoughts about "um"
Once in a while,
I write a letter to a student and his/her family.It is a way to present my thoughts in a
manner I hope will be easy to understand. Here’s my attempt to clarify what I
consider to be a case of a child with a mixed language/speech-motor based dysfluency
who has been trying to manage it on his own. Please take a listen to the interview with
Joe Donaher on StutterTalk, Episode 436, for some thoughts about different
types of stuttering. http://stuttertalk.com/
This notebook has many language
activities in it. You don’t need to do all of the activities in 1 week!Please try to do at least 2 activities before
your next speech therapy visit. Don’t worry about your stuttering when you do
these. I want to know how difficult the language tasks were.
I’m giving you Kids’ Big Book of Games (Games Magazine Junior) to take home and
keep. I bought it at a library books sale for maybe $1.00, so you might see a
little bit of writing in it already. Please keep it in a special place so you
can remember to bring it back to speech therapy with you. I want to know which
pages you liked, which pages you found easy, and which pages you thought were
hard to do.Don’t worry about your
stuttering when you do this book.
Here’s what I think:
1. Maybe you use alot of
“um” to help you say words easily. For example, if you think you might get
stuck on the word “dog” in the sentence, “My dog and I played in the snow.”, maybe you would find yourself saying,
“My um dog and I played in the snow.” The “um” might give your mouth
just enough extra time to day the word dog easily. Maybe you would pause to
stop and think and take your time too. Some kids who stutter do this.
2. Or maybe you use alot of “um” to help you remember the word you
know you want to say but you can’t think of fast enough. You can picture you
and your dog in your head, and you know you want to talk about playing in the
snow with your dog, but when you say the sentence, the word “dog” got lost in
your head somewhere and you can’t find it. This happens to all of us sometimes,
but maybe it’s happening to you alot. Some kids who stutter do this too.
3. Or maybe you want to talk about lots of things at once. If this is
true, then maybe “um” is helping your brain sort through all your ideas and get
them organized. Maybe you have your
thoughts organized, and the “um” helps your brain put all those ideas into
grammatically correct sentences.
4. It seems to me that you are trying
very hard to talk more smoothly. I wonder if you are changing your words or
sentences when you feel a stuttered sound. For example, some kids who stutter
will do this:if they want to say, “I’m
going to my friend’s house for a while” and they discover the word “to” is hard
tosay, they will revise the sentence
right in the middle of saying it and hear themselves say something like, “I’m
going t-outside for a while.” Kids who use this strategy sometimes find that
starts happening automatically. They don’t plan to change what they were
saying; revising their sentences just becomes an automatic behavior that
happens really fast before they even know they are doing it.
★Ifyour “ums” andpauses are because of stuttering, then, we
want to spend most of our time on speech practice.
“ums” andpauses are because somelanguage activities are difficult, then, we
want to be sure to help you turn your thoughts into words more easily while we
practice easier speech.
about this more at each visit. I want to be I understand what you are doing,
thinking and feeling about your speech.