Monday, January 16, 2006

The Airflow Method

I've recently learned of a therapy method that has shown promise as a potential means to acquire and maintain a fair amount of fluency. Perhaps you've heard of's the Passive Air flow technique and was developed by Dr. Martin Schwartz of the National Center For Stuttering after he interviewed individuals who had claimed to have stuttered at one time...but were "cured" or for which stuttering had passed.

He discovered that for many of them, they had developed a habit of simply emitting a tiny stream of air between the lips before speaking. Not forced air...just a natural, tiny exhalation. His entire book is available online at this link:

As I am always looking for a method to achieve fluency...I read the entire book in one afternoon and found it to be very intriguing, enlightening and it sparked my imagination. Could this method work for me as it has for those the book touts? Could I learn this new method of speaking? We'll find out.

I do know that I used the method for the entirety of the first afternoon and found that it is very effective in stopping a block at the beginning of every sentence. I was able to say anything I long as I used the method. I could abandon my word swapping. I even made a few phone calls using it...and was pleasantly surprised.

Keep in mind, must studiously apply the therapy methods in the book, simply because, though it's an easy method to's not easy if used in stressful situations if the method doesn't come as naturally as breathing. I found this out the first time I used it at a fast food restaurant I frequent. Though I used it...I completely blocked on the first word of my sentence and immediately used my former method of exhaling all the air in my lungs...and was able to easily begin speaking again. brain is more accustomed to using this method...over a new method introduced just recently. That is why Dr. Schwartz recommends that the "adherent" employ the therapy method over weeks and weeks. The method must become second nature.

I also don't know how well it will work on difficult words within a sentence. For example, I stutter on most L words. Linda. Little. Lithium. Though the passive air flow technique might help me to not block on the beginning of, "I was walking down the street the other day, when I saw...", but what happens when I get to..."the cutest little dog running across the parking lot."?

I don't know. The book doesn't seem to address words that are in the middle of sentences once you are already talking fluently. However, most of my blocks are at the beginning of sentences, so I think this method may be good for me.
You can read more about Dr. Schwartz and his methods at The National Center for Stuttering website: and no, I am not being paid to talk about this. :)


andrew greenstein said...

It is important to understand the model of stuttering presented in the book. Terms like BASE LEVEL TENSION and THRESSHOLD are VERY, VERY important... Airflow subtracts tension down to the BASE LEVEL when done correctly...Thus, as tension rises throughout the sentence, most stutterers will not hit their thresshold... thus, they wont no struggle release the block is necessary.. Thus, even if you're scanning an "L" word midsentence.. you will float over it--as long as you GET SET TO SPEAK correctly back at the beginning of the sentence...
Please note, also, that airflow isn't quite as you described it.. The workshops go into more detail than the books.. Basically,
the exhalation should be VERY passive.. After the inhalation, the stutterer is to only think REST--and not even think about exhaling.. They cannot think about the upcoming word or they will PREFORM it-- [which is tensing up* in advance of it].. Once the air is flowing passively. .they are then to switch their intent to only say ONE word--- just the first word.. slowly.. If it's a monosyllable word, this is achieved by putting a comma after it... i.e. "My, name is Andrew".. If it's a multisyllable word.. they hyphenate it "Un-for-tun-ate-ly, I have to go now"-- W/ practice, this begins to sound very, very natural

Peter Louw said...

Dear Stuttering Student, I agree with Andrew. I have been using the Passive Airflow technique for more than 30 years - I am now 62 years old - and though it was hard work, it is IMHO the best fluency technique around. If you need more info, check out my blog at and read my free online book at Kind regards, Peter

JasonL said...

Thanks for the great article. It reminded me that i made a promise a long time ago to share my knowledge when i believed I had overcome stuttering. I urge people to do research on airflow technique and this is a great site for that