Well Said: Toronto Speech Therapy

One of the things I wanted to try to do a long time ago was to have guest posts and interviews with SLPs. So! Finally after a few years, here we are.

Melissa James, B.A., M.H.Sc. (Reg. CASLPO), was nice enough to send along a post. She is the director at Well Said: Toronto Speech Therapy.

From their site:

We are Toronto’s speech therapy clinic for adults where you can work with registered speech-language pathologists to improve your speech, social or communication skills. Our work focuses on practical, real-world outcomes. From a lisp to social skills, our registered professionals help you develop the confidence that you need. Our services are always founded in research-based approaches that have helped thousands of others.

From Well Said: Toronto Speech Therapy:

Top 6 Tips for Letting Go of Your Feelings About Stuttering

Stuttering is painful, not in the stub your toe kind of painful, but a deep, chronic worry and frustration, emotional kind of painful. This leads many adults who stutter to a speech therapist’s office to help reduce their stuttering. In the past, you would expect to work on slowing down, using voicing, breathing, and other tricks to help you speak more fluently. While this type of therapy has research efficacy, a significant proportion of adults find that this therapy works only as a temporary fix. And another common complaint with this type of tools therapy is that people feel like they’re putting on a mask. Masking the disfluencies can be a great thing for someone who feels neutral about their stuttering. Unfortunately, most adults who have an emotional history with their stuttering that is far from neutral. For someone who has struggled with stuttering their entire life the feeling about their stuttering: the anxiety, negative thoughts, avoidance of situations are worse to cope with than the actual stuttering.

For these people who stutter a new approach to stuttering treatment has been developing steam in the speech therapy community. This type of treatment focuses on healing the psychosocial and emotional aspects of stuttering. Years of coping with stuttering certainly does take a psychological toll and this approach to new stuttering treatment is designed to alleviate the emotional pain rather that the stuttering itself. This new approach (let’s call it a counseling approach) to stuttering therapy has some good research behind it. Research has shown that not only were people who stutter feeling more accepting of their stutter and positive about themselves after working with a speech-language pathologist who used this approach AND –  the frequency of stuttering decreased and gains were still evident three months later. This means that working on your stuttering with a speech therapist who uses the counseling approach will help you feel better and decrease the number of stuttering moments at the same time. Are you surprised to hear this? Probably not. As someone who stutters, you know that when you are having a bad day when your mind is cluttered with worry and negative thoughts, your speech is less fluent. And, when you are feeling care-free, like during a relaxing vacation, your speech becomes your most fluent. This research does well at capturing something you already knew: your mood affects your fluency. And so, now speech therapist’s can work with you on helping you reduce anxiety, increase vulnerability, feel more positive, and more accepting of your stuttering which together will reduce the stuttering.

Here are the top 6 tips for letting go of your feeling about stuttering:

1. Journal – Journalling has life-changing powers to develop your self-reflection, emotional processing, and insight. When you journal about your experience with stuttering, you are reorganizing your feelings into thoughts and confronting them in a safe way which will allow you to get all the “feels” out and down on paper rather than ruminating over how you should or could have said it better.

2. Practicing Gratitude –  Getting into the habit of noticing why you are lucky or what you are grateful for has been demonstrated in research to improve one’s wellness. For adults who stutter taking a few minutes to take perspective on what you have going for you can be very helpful in improving your feeling about stuttering.

3. Mindfulness – Mindfulness is a hot topic in the psychology disciplines right now. Several articles are written on a daily basis on the benefits of mindfulness from depression to anxiety, to anger management to stuttering. Mindfulness is essentially taking time out of our modern 2017 lives to disconnect and focus gently on our being without judgment. I personally like yoga as a mindfulness practice. Some people really like guided relaxations. You can find guided relaxations on the internet here.

4. Envisioning your goals realized – I often ask clients to collect images and put them together in a collage that represents how they want their lives to look in 5-10 years. This task of visualizing the future for my clients who stutter has been helpful in shifting the focus away from speech and on to the real values. By focusing on how you want your life to look in five years, we can at a glance see what is important to you. And from there, we can work backward and formulate a plan for how we get there with stuttering.

5. Checking the evidence – See if you can challenge your own thinking when you notice a negative thought passing through your internal dialogue. For example, did you just think to yourself – oh, she probably thinks I am incompetent – stop yourself and ask ok, wait a minute this thought is unhelpful and what evidence do I have to prove this is true? You may want to read more about unhelpful thoughts if you think this strategy would work well for you.

6. Most importantly, you shouldn’t feel bad about stuttering and you shouldn’t call your a dysfluency a “mistake” or a “mess up” We have to change our language about our stuttering to make it neutral. When we describe something using neutral language, our minds are less likely to associate it with a negative emotion.

Do you have any strategies that you used to deal with the unhelpful feelings and thoughts around stuttering?

Stuttering on Lately

It’s amazing how much life gets in the way of trying to do something regular like blog posting.

Anyway! Here we go with another Stuttering on Lately post.

This past Friday night my old boss here in the Kingdom invited a bunch of people out for his going-away since he’s leaving on final exit come June. He’d been my boss for four years (until I moved to Khobar) and was really awesome at it. He had it over in Bahrain, and although I didn’t know everybody he invited on the e-mail (only a dozen or so names) I didn’t think too much about it [in a stuttering sense.]

I got there, and there were a few people who I didn’t know, but it wasn’t a big deal to just latch on with the old boss and two guys he was talking with. It wasn’t a dinner really, just drinks — coke for me. I sort of cheated with my first name by using the Arabic pronunciation — which of course was a little funny given the Western audience — but worked well enough. I only introduced myself to two people anyway.

As per conversations, I’m mostly happy to let others talk. And you know how your office is — there’s always someone there who goes on and on. I could say that the stuttering was holding me back, but really the noisy environment coupled with people I didn’t know all that well held me back. I prefer something more quiet with friends. I did have a chance to talk to the ol’ boss one-on-one, so that was good. When I was talking, I was doing pretty well — maybe all the caffeine and sugar from the coke.

Afterward, I told a friend I’d meet up with him and spend the evening. I didn’t know where he lived, so I gave him a call. He gave me the general vicinity and then started explaining specifics. Like the name of his building. That started with an ‘l.’ And then he said, “you’ll have to tell security…”

The evening was quickly going downhill. I wanted to just drive home instead.

I told him that I’d give him a call as I got closer to get the directions. But the name of his building was still stuck in my head.

I rolled up to the security gate, and put the window down. Well, let’s just get this over with.

Got stuck on ‘l.’ I’m guessing it was for a few hours. The security guy gave a guess. (and of course there were two buildings that started with l, and he guessed the other one.) The thing about people finishing your sentences (other than its rudeness) is that it messes up your stutter. Whatever breathing or pacing you might have is gone. Because then they put you back on their schedule. They asked you something, and now they want an answer. But you don’t have any air. And you’re still trying to say what they suggested to tell them, no, that’s not it.

The guard was smiling by this time (he didn’t really seem to care what building I was going to) and eventually I got the name out. He let me through and told me where to go. I called my buddy again to confirm the apartment number, and that was that. After putting the guardhouse in my rearview, I didn’t think about it anymore. The next morning when I went by them again, I didn’t dwell on it either. I didn’t die, I got to see my friend, and things were, relatively speaking, smooth enough.

Stuttering Link Roundup

A nice big link roundup for Stuttering Awareness Week. Plenty to comment on for the next few days as well.

From the Stuttering Foundation:

Stuttering Awareness Week begins May 11, 2015, and offers an opportunity to focus public attention on a complex disorder that touches 70 million people around the world and more than three million in the U.S. alone.

I like the idea of making t-shirts, actually …

Scroobius Pip and the benefits of a stutter

Pip’s raps include references to his stutter. The song 1000 Words is about how he stood out when growing up. His lyrics, however, show he has always had a positive view of his speech impediment: “Sure, broken stammers of a youth can kind of bring some attention, but the sympathy of a teacher can get you out of detention”.

An article from William Browning, the managing editor of The Dispatch, a Mississippi newspaper.

In short, acceptance is the goal. I am not there, yet. In the company of loved ones my stutter does not trigger an undertow of negativity. In professional settings, though, a stuttering moment has the ability to freeze my marrow. I want to take that power away from my stutter. Unleash the balloon, as it were.

By now you’ve all seen this one about Tiger writing a letter to a kid who was getting bullied by his stutter. Here’s the original article from Golf Digest:

That Tiger responded so quickly was the act of not only someone who knew taunting when he was a child — both because of his stutter and his race — but it was also the act of a father of two who understands how we need to protect our children.

From HuffPo, Stuttering is nobody’s fault. Another great article from Katherine Preston, commenting on the BBC article linked above about Scroobius Pip. I used to think for a long time that my stuttering was somehow karma-related or even from routine childhood falls and bumps and whatever else. Not so much!

These are the facts: stuttering is not caused by psychological trauma, unsupportive parenting or mental neurosis. Rather, stuttering is a genetically influenced, neurological condition.

An article from a Pakistani living in Sweden.

There seems to be no habitual behaviour associated with my stammer. This also goes to show that much of my impediment is uncontrollable. Also, at the same time, just like how people have bad hair days, stutterers also have bad days and good days and sometimes fluent days. According to my experience, stutterers can communicate effectively but they cannot communicate fluently.

The last thought he has in the article is perfect — I go through the exact same thing every time I’m at Subway.

From the American institute of Stuttering — on why we should accept our stuttering.

When people accept their stuttering, they enter situations and use words they might normally avoid. They are willing to tell others that they stutter, and are open to letting others see and hear instances of stuttering without shame or embarrassment. They communicate effectively and also happen to stutter.

Slight stuttering blog changes

A little over a month ago I talked about making some changes to the site. I’ve finally started doing so now. There’s a menu bar across the top that points to several pages. At this time, those pages are just a framework. There are some links, but not nearly enough. Now that it’s up there, it’ll keep me accountable to mine the Internet for specific information about stuttering.

Rearranging things …

Regular followers will note some changes. I thought I should make it a little easier to navigate and find older posts. I also like that I can see what’s going on with other stuttering bloggers. I updated the About and FAQs slightly. If you have anything that could be added to the FAQs, by all means, let me know. Over the next few days I’ll also be going through the Resources page and adding another page of old blogs that aren’t update any more but still have interesting content on them.

As for stuttering itself, I suppose I’d like to revisit my Thanksgiving post and what I’m thankful for. After being at a new job for just over a month, I’m thankful for working in a very professional environment with respectful people who have never mocked me for my stuttering. I’ve been in quite a few meetings with people I don’t know — in person and on the phone. And they’ve all been patient and understanding.

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