February 26, 2013

Stammering Thought Processes and Why No-One Understands

I was discussing with a client who was attending the one-to-one stammering course about how frustrating I used to find it when I had this form of speech impediment - the lack of understanding, the severe lack of help and the rather poor level of speech therapy for people who have a stammer. It made me think of a situation that happened many years ago when I was aged thirteen (I am going to be forty this year!)

I was at yet another speech and language therapy session and it was not going too well, as usual. When I mean not going too well I do not mean that I was struggling to speak but more that I was not learning anything new and that the speech therapist was yet again rather clueless when dealing with stammering.

He asked me to explain a typical situation or task with which I found it difficult to speak fluently. I explained about my fear of reading out aloud from a book in front of my class colleagues – I was going to call them classmates however very few of them were worthy of the name.

The speech therapist then started to give advice as to potentially the best way to go about saying the words from the book. Yes it was the same old stuff – to slow down and to take my time blah blah blah! There was more advice as well and he then asked if I had any questions. So I enquired as to what I should be doing in the period leading up to the task such as five, ten, fifteen, twenty and even thirty minutes before it was my turn to read. He seemed perplexed with my question and asked what I meant.

I therefore started to explain to this university graduate of speech and language therapy the thought processes of a person like me – a person that has a stammer. I explained that when I entered the classroom and I saw that there were reading books laid out on each pupils table I just knew that we were all going to be asked to read one or two paragraphs. I would start to panic straight away, I would worry that I am very likely to stammer, I would worry about how other people in the class might react if indeed I did stammer and I would want to basically go home there and then. I would try to work out which paragraph/s I might have to read and then look through the words in those paragraphs hoping that there are not any of my more difficult words included. So how would you advise I deal with all of these emotions Mr Speech Therapist? He was rather silent and confused – this was something that had obviously not been taught on his course at University. Here comes the frustration again!

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