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Trusting the experiential common sense of stuttering

I had an exchange with my stuttering buddy Pam, who has recently experienced a relatively sudden evolution in overt stuttering behaviors.  New secondary stuttering behaviors include throat and laryngeal tension.  She told an SLP, who suggested she try (whole-body) relaxation techniques and laryngeal massage (i.e., massaging your neck).

Are any stutterers out there buying this?  I highly doubt it.  We know better.  And yes, the SLP was a fluent.  [A well-intended fluent that’s giving useless (if not harmful) treatment advice.]

In a sense, the sports analogy works here.  (It usually fails as it relates to stuttering, but it works here…)  If one develops some new ‘bad habits’ in their golf swing, will it help the golfer at all to massage their arm or trying whole body relaxation techniques?  No.  The problem isn’t tension in the arm, it’s the act of swinging itself.  Similarly, newly acquired secondary stuttering behaviors aren’t problems of “muscle tension” itself, but rather new and novel additions to the speech code.  Massaging the larynx won’t do anything–as any stutterer will intuitively know.  The act of speaking is what needs to be targeted–which is why negative practice and volitional stuttering are such great tools.

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  1. July 14th, 2009 at 16:16 | #1

    Ah, my good friend Greg weighs in and puts it on paper how silly this seemed to me.

    I do feel I need to trust my instincts here and realize that I am not going to be comfortable doing shoulder rolls and cheek and neck massage.

    Somehow reading what you have written here (several times) makes it even more absolute for me. I am trying to figure out how to best deal with this, and be ok with it.

    My breathing does seem kind of whacked right now, so being more aware of relaxed breathing might make some sense for me. But I cannot wrap my brain around this. Its funny, while I was at the conference, someone who I had been talking to for quite while mentioned that I seem to do quite well with my blocking, that I don’t seem to let it bother me.

    Now that was weird. First time (well, second – JK mentioned it) any one has actually noted I am blocking. And commenting that I seem at ease with it, because, inside, I feel completely different. I feel the tension, and I feel like I look tense.

    Maybe because I was so relaxed at the conference and aroundsomany stutterers, I didn’t really care, and felt free to just stutter my new way.

    Thanks formaking this into a post. I think its important to realize how variable it is, that even as an adult with almost 40 years experience with stuttering, it is still evolving.


  2. August 2nd, 2009 at 12:29 | #2

    Oh Greg, where for art thou?


    Greg @ Stuttering.me Reply:

    I’ll send you an email, Pam 😉


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