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.

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