Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The McGuire Programme?

In all of my blogging and research on stuttering, I had never heard of The McGuire Programme. Apparently it is an intensive 4-day program coupled with follow-up coaching with a personal coach, a graduate of the program and some follow-up courses you are able to attend for a modest fee. Most of the coaches listed on the site are from places other than the United States...a great deal from UK and Australia.

Since I am always looking for new therapies and information about possible "cures" or "recovery programs" for stuttering, this one intrigued me. Apparently it's been featured on mainstream networks and other visible venues.

I scoured the sight looking for any hint as to the method of therapy...and found very little information. I'd love to hear from some graduates of this program who can give some insight. There is no way I'll pay for a program I know very little about and am not at least moderately sure will help me.

The program is run by its own members...not a host of doctors or "experts" in speech pathology. I like that. I know it's a bad comparison, but this method is the same one that allows AA to be so successful. :)

Anyway, if you are interested in reading about the program, visit this website: and I will post more information if and as I get it. Again, if you are in this program or are a coach or a successful graduate, I'd love to hear from you.

Edited: I did find a blog post that gives a little information about the techniques used:

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Meeting A Fellow Stutterer and Blogger

My meeting with Tom Weidig (at Starbucks in Mira Mesa, CA) from The Stuttering Brain blog went extremely well and I can report that he’s a highly intelligent, funny and insightful young guy. And despite his stutter, he is eager to talk about a wide variety of topics, including stuttering, and conveys a genuine interest in the person to whom he is speaking. I felt very at ease in his company and our few hours of chatting were very pleasant.

I made an embarrassing mistake right off, however. My education is mostly in law…not geography, and by some unfortunate slip of my early education, I had no idea where Luxembourg was and actually thought it was a city in Germany. *blush*

Interestingly, Tom brought to my attention a very effective means of preventing stuttering…it’s through a process of re-learning how to enunciate, using a very affected manner of applying emphasis on certain syllables in a word. Given that his accent is pretty strong, I didn’t notice a drastic change in the sound of his speech, using the affectation, as opposed to what he ordinarily sounds like. Thus, I thought the idea was wonderful…and his pretty strong stutter disappeared altogether.

I asked him why he didn’t use it all the time and he explained that it requires a lot of discipline to dedicate oneself to using the method consistently. Like with diets, the success is determined by a commitment to the program. If you let your guard down, you will undoubtedly relapse. Likewise, with this method, which requires almost a constant awareness of how you are talking, if you don’t stick with it, you’ll likely eventually abandon it altogether, despite the fluency freedom you’ve experienced using it.

Since I am a covert stutterer who uses many tricks to hide my dysfluency, he asked me to do an exercise. He asked me to pretend to stutter…to force myself to stutter. Understand, he wasn’t asking me to stop covering my stutter…he was asking me to actually feign a stutter. Seems easy, right? Not for me. I am very aware of my speech and my stutter can embarrass me. Thus, it took me a few minutes to gather up enough courage to do it. It made me very aware of myself. Tom seems to be completely comfortable as a stutterer, using almost no methods to get around it…and I admire him for that.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Stuttering Brain

I've only ever met people I've met online a handful of times. Maybe even only 3 or less. Today I am honored to be meeting up with Tom Weidig (from Luxembourg) from the stuttering blog (see left link) The Stuttering Brain. He actually called me on Friday evening to agree on a date, time & place.

I am nervous about this meeting because, as I've said before, ordinarily, I avoid other stutterers if I can. A little too much reality for me sometimes. I don't like having a mirror placed in front of my face. However, it might be, I'm a fan of Tom's blog, so it's going to be nice to actually talk to him.

If you have read his blog or credentials, you'll know that he's very educated...having obtained both a Master's degree and a PhD. I'm still working on my graduate law degree.

Have a click over to his blog if you get the chance.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Why I Resist Therapies

By therapies...I don't mean mechanical devices (which I can't afford anyway). I am talking about on-going therapies that address the manner in which I speak...the attitude I have toward my stutter...and how I approach the world in general as a stutterer. Therapies like this one:

I have seen a trend with many of these therapies that include instructions like..."don't avoid stuttering...stutter freely", etc, etc. They encourage you to embrace your stutter. Don't hide in the "closet" as a stutterer. Become comfortable with stuttering. Blah-blah-blah.

The problem I have with this advice is that...I am comfortable enough with the tricks I use to mask my stutter. I am comfortable with pretending to be fluent. I don't believe that it will benefit me to freely stutter. In fact, it will harm my social life, my professional life...and virtually every aspect of my life. Mostly, people know that I am a stutterer if they get to know me beyond a first-time meeting or discussion.

At first meeting, people probably think I just pause a lot...or stammer more than usual. If they meet me again or begin to spend time with usually becomes apparent that I am a stutterer. Yet, my "masking" techniques make it possible to have almost normal conversation. I rarely have tremendous problems. It goes the same way in my professional life. The "masking" techniques I use to hide my stutter have enabled me to have a semblance of normalcy in my social and professional life.

While the saying "if it ain't broke...don't fix it" doesn't apply here does apply with how my stutter impacts my life. The benefits of becoming more comfortable with being an openly stuttering not outweigh the benefits that come from using my "masking" techniques to hide my dysfluency.

Does this make sense at all?

Saturday, January 06, 2007

2007 Resolutions

Ordinarily, people make New Year's Resolutions that have to do with improving their character...refraining from some not-so-healthy activity...or accomplishing some long-since-abandoned task or responsibility that continues to bug them from time to time.

Given that this blog is about stuttering and the experiences I(we) endure, I thought I would make a few of my own that have to do with my fluency (or lack thereof). There are many things about myself I'd like to change with regard to how I respond to my own stutter, so let's go:

1. I resolve to get less annoyed with myself when I block. Instead of kicking the nearest small animal...I promise to only shake my fist and yell at it until it runs away or urinates spontaneously.

2. I resolve to become less annoyed at others when they don't realize I'm a stutterer and immediately repeat my stutter back to me, laughing. From now on, instead of burning down their house, I will only paint it pea green while they are sleeping.

3. I resolve to become less annoyed when someone I know says, "Try talking slower," when I am having a block. Slower. Wonderful, Einstein. Now we get to hear my stutter at a glacial pace. It's the gift that keeps on giving! THANKS!!!!

4. I resolve to refrain from physically assaulting others who minimize my stutter by saying, "Oh, we all stutter now and then. I'm just like you!" From now on, I'll just target their elderly grandmothers. They don't run as fast.

(Isn't this is fun!?)

5. I resolve to refrain from wishing that all of the employees of the gargantuantly over-priced fluency device manufacturering companies would burn to death in a bizarre microwave accident in the break room. I mean, heck, they can't help it if their pompous, rich, self-important opportunistic crack-pot wannabe doctor bosses inflate their prices so only the rich can benefit from their devices (which, let's be perfectly honest, probably don't work anyway.). Except for that Fluency Master. That probably works. But, at $4,000 a pop...who can afford it?

6. I resolve to stop tracing the calls of all of the customer service boneheads who become impatient with me on the phone by sighing heavily or cutting me off or hanging up. From now on, instead of stalking their children and threatening them with slow, painful and unusually cruel death, I will only force them to watch I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Butter commercials starring Fabio.

7. I resolve to stop doing immediate, spontaneous, rapid dental reconstruction work on idiots who ask me to repeat myself after it was so difficult to say it the first time. Instead, I'll just wrestle them to the floor and dig out their ears with Q-tips until they can sufficiently hear me the first time. "CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW???? GOOOOOOOOD!!"

8. I resolve to refrain from kicking the feet out from under people who complete my sentences for me. Yes, even small children. Instead, I'll just laugh as hard as I can, point at them and scream, "NO!! That is NOT what I was going to say!! You thought I was going to say THAT?? HAR-HAR-HAR-HAR-HAR-HAR!! What a MAROOON! Get a load of THIS idiot!!?!"

9. I resolve to become less irriated at people who put their hand on my shoulder when I have a block and say, "It's okay. Just let it out." Instead, from now on, I'll look at them, smile and say, "Aw, thanks," then vomit down the front of their shirt.

10. I resolve not to do any of the resolutions on this list. Well, except for maybe 4 and 9. :)