These days the stresses of life, individual expectations and pressures applied by families often see even more pressures being placed on our goals of attaining and maintaining control over our stuttering.
John’s battling traffic on his trip home from work. John is an office worker with a stutter / stammer. He has a young family and is experiencing all the pressures and responsibilities that go along with this. “Tim needs to be at footy training by 6.00, Sarah has to be picked up from ballet at 6.15, oh, and I can’t forget, I need to speak to Tim’s coach about his ankle, he’s been saying it may be too sore to play on Saturday. How am I going to make it to speech maintenance tonight? I need to be there at 7.30, yipes, I’m not going to get home until 6.45. I’ll have to grab a bite to eat and then go. My speech has been rotten today, how am I going to speak to Tim’s coach? He has heard me stuttering / stammering before, I don’t feel in control today, I am going to stutter… Stay calm! I can do it this time.”
How common is this scenario? The pressure of life on anyone with a young family is constantly with us, the added pressure of having to deal with stuttering as well can be demanding, frustrating, depressing… all of these and more.
“Well, I stuffed that up, Tim’s coach must really think I’m an idiot! I really need to get to maintenance tonight, I’m stuttering terribly.” John rushed his meal down and jumped back into his car. “Only another half-hour drive and I can get my speech back on track, I really need this.” John missed the last two weeks of speech maintenance – control over his stutter and his fluency has slipped back dramatically. He knows that weekly maintenance is crucial to help stay in control of his stuttering. “I really hope Paul is there tonight! He and I get on really well. He uses his technique well and is as motivated as I am in terms of maintaining fluency, an hour and a half with him and I’ll be back on track!”
The success or failure of face-to-face speech maintenance meetings depends to a large extent on the people who get together. If the recovering stutterers involved are all like-minded and motivated to practise technique, then outcomes can be good and people leave feeling far better than when they arrived. If, however, some people attending are there for a social get-together or others allow their speech to disintegrate into stuttering and blocking issues, then the group as a whole can be pulled down. A strong leader is important in this instance, so that people can be set back on track and re-focused, to work on stuttering therapy. Results can often be excellent when a strong leader is at the helm.
“Phew, that guy nearly ran me off the road! Anyway, here now, let’s get down to it! Oh no, Larry’s here.”
Larry is a wonderful character and everyone loves him, but secretly people wish he would not come to maintenance meetings as he never makes much of an attempt to control his stuttering. People always arrive highly motivated to use slow rates of speech and excellent technique, but Larry’s influence is such that control over fluency is lead astray, many people find themselves being driven or sidetracked by Larry’s lack of commitment or inability to use good technique.
“What a waste of time that was! They should ban Larry from our meetings. Even Paul started to lose control tonight. I’ve driven all this way, nearly got side-swiped by some fool, spent an hour and a half at speech maintenance and I’m leaving feeling worse about my stutter than when I arrived.”
If this is your experience with face-to-face maintenance meetings to help control your stuttering, then you are not alone. The Skype medium offers a complementary option for people recovering from stuttering. Having Skype sessions with other recovering stutterers gives you total control over your speech therapy and maintenance program. Skype allows you to control: who you practise with, when you practise, and how long you practise. You can practise any time of day, and it’s free. Once you establish a network of people with the same mindset in regards to importance of excellent practice and maintenance, then your fluency can only improve.