Monday, January 12, 2009

No Rhyme. No Reason.

I've been looking back through the comments on my blog and feel terrible that so many questions to me have gone unanswered. Time just does not permit me to spend the needed time to address every comment or question, so I do apologize.

I do want to address one question that was asked: Is there a predictable pattern that allows me to know when I will or won't be fluent? Simple answer: No.

If you watch my YouTube videos, you might be tempted to think, "Hey, this guy is pretty fluent! He goes entire paragraphs without stuttering!" And you would be justified in saying so. That's because there are controlled environments where I can enjoy extended periods of fluency. Mostly this happens when I turn on my camera and have a script and use my affected voice. Many are aware that when stutterers talk in an affected voice or with an accent, stuttering all but disappears. It doesn't really work as a therapy method, however, because the speaker is then forced to always focus on the manner of speech rather than on what's being said. For this reason, it's difficult to maintain and the stutterer will usually abandon the method in just a short time.

But there are days that come when I turn on my camera and I can't say one sentence without a frustrating block. And I never know when those times are coming. That's what is even more frustrating. And nobody knows when I've had those days, unless they see a video that has been more heavily edited than others. There have even been times when I will edit parts of a spoken word. I will stutter on a word and then will edit out the stutter that appears in the middle of the word.

The upside of all of this is...I've become a very skilled video editor and have even edited videos for other YouTube users.

Sometimes I will go to work and find that I can speak pretty fluently, using all of the tricks (for my personal tricks that I use to get around stuttering, scroll down to older post) that I've developed over the years. Other times, I can't say three words in a row without a block and sometimes my tricks will even fail me, the blocks are so bad.

And you NEVER know when those times are going to be. I just have bad days...and sometimes I have good days and there seems to be no pattern to it. No rhyme or reason. Nothing to indicate why this day I'm more fluent, while yesterday I struggled all day to say five words in a row without making the listener uncomfortable.

This is what makes stuttering such a confusing and frustrating ailment. And I'm sure this is what makes treating it be so difficult. Imagine trying to treat or cure an ailment whose symptoms are never consistent. And one whose cause is unknown. And one where the dynamics of what exactly is happening when it happens...are a mystery. Does a stutter start in the mouth? The throat? The brain? Why is it that if I fake a French or British stutter disappears? Why is it that if I know the answer to a question that's being asked, but can't say the word, that right after someone else says it, I can then say it? Why do I never stutter if I speak in unison with someone else?

These are all questions that may never be answered in my lifetime. Perhaps one day a cure or effective treatment can be found, but until then, we'll just keep asking the questions...and I'll usually only ask them in written form. It's easier that way. :)


Greg said...

Great post--I really enjoyed reading it. Keep posting!


Stuttering Stanley said...

Thank you, Greg!