Recently, another blogger and I have had a really enjoyable "debate" or discussion about stuttering. To see Jerome's full responses, click on the "Shame on the Stuttering Foundation" entry and read the remarks. But, to address one point that I thought was worth a separate blog entry:
Jerome said: "I guess that's a matter of definition. If somebody continuously uses a technique, or even mental state, that allows him not to stutter then I'd say that he has more or less reached the goal."
Yes, I agree...and I highly praise those individuals. I suppose we needed to define our terms because I was more talking about an authentic "cure"...some kind of treatment that would remove any more necessity to even be aware of ones speech as stutterers must constantly be.
For myself, I am mostly fluent, because I have learned since childhood to use techniques to hide my stutter. I have been called a "closet" stutterer...or a "covert" stutterer. For example, if I am meeting someone for the first time, I employ a method of forcing all of the air out of my lungs and pressing my diaphragm upward on every sentence in order to force words out, making me fluent...though the listener cannot tell how taxing this is on me. Often, I go away from these conversations very worn out, mentally & emotionally...with my stomach in knots.
Another method...I feign introspection when I'm at a word I cannot say. Instead of audibly blocking...I internally block until I can get past or I can find an alternative word. The listener is none the wiser...unless they know me and know of my method. For example, I try this trick with my son and he knows what I'm doing. When I act like I'm thinking about my response, he'll often say, "Just spell it if you can't say it." This actually gets annoying if I'm actually thinking and not using the trick. :)
To most people, they would relate to others that I am fluent...that I've probably overcome my stutter...and that I'm a success. I do acknowledge that I am a success at communicating...but I do not feel good about my speech because I get frustrated that I can't say what I want to say when I want to say it...and I can't say it STRESS FREE.
This is the sort of success I'm looking for. I don't want a prosthetic leg so that I appear to walk like everybody else. I want the REAL LEG. Understand, I'm not really expecting this kind of goal...I'm simply defining my terms....I'm defining what I mean by an authentic "cure".
And this is why I don't think that traditional speech therapy will provide one. Traditional therapy will help the adherent find ways to get around a stutter...find ways to feel better about a stutter...help the adherent COPE with the stutter and the emotional baggage that comes with it...but at the end of the day, it will not make the stutterer like everyone else.
Perhaps what I'm looking for is unrealistic. Perhaps it's akin to "re-growing" that missing leg. Maybe it will never happen. But...one can certainly hope.
The delayed audio feedback device makes me almost 100% fluent and when I use a similar device on my computer, I do not have to think about talking. Somehow, this device tricks my brain into being fluent. I believe that it's somehow bypassing some chemical imbalance or physical abnormality in my hearing/brain/whatever. It accomplishes what over 10 years of traditional speech therapy could not...and it does it immediately.
I don't pretend to be an expert on stuttering...I'm on a learning journey as are most stutterers. These are all just my opinions based upon my own subjective experiences. And I welcome the perspectives of those who disagree.