Two new people joined us at this meeting, including an SLP, Susan, and one of her patients, Tim. We were a total of 6.
One of the main topics we discussed revolved about talking to groups. You would think that we would all be more comfortable speaking one-on-one or with smaller groups, but that is not always the case. For John it is easier to talk to groups because there are fewer opportunities to interrupt and he doesn’t feel individuals judging him or his stutter. There is more pressure when he talks to only one person and worries more about what that person is thinking. We are usually more comfortable around family than around strangers. And of course, talking on the phone is not comfortable for almost all people who stutter!
We talked about anxiety and how it affects our stuttering. If you have a lot of anxiety, do you find that by addressing it, it helps with your fluency? Does the other way around work the same? For example, if you are more fluent, do you become less anxious? We all agreed that anything you do for yourself helps all parts of you. If you focus on exercising it might make you healthier and relieve your anxiety; if you focus on your anxiety it might help you not rely on comfort food and eat better. What do you think?
We were 7 people at this meeting, including one undergraduate student from La Salle and a new member, Eric. Welcome to our group Eric!
What do you do when you notice that you stutter more? Sometimes we go back to not talking or to avoiding situations so that our stuttering doesn’t get worse. For some of us, if we fight it, it gets worse, but if we keep it low, eventually it wears off and we go back to our normal state. Sometimes doing nothing can be empowering. It’s not the same as giving up, it is just a way of saying that you recognize what is happening and you are staying in control.
Other times we take time to practice techniques or rehearse what we are going to say. That is particularly important if you are going to give a presentation. We read it out loud, we practice what we are going to say until we feel so comfortable with the material that we don’t have to think about it when we actually give the presentation. Rehearsing is a way to remove an element to worry about when there are so many other things at play. Not having to worry about the content makes it easier to deliver and it helps with fluency.
We discussed a couple of our goals: Increasing eye contact and eliminating fillers. We don’t like it when others don’t maintain eye contact with us but sometimes we are the first ones to break it. It is important to maintain eye contact to stay self-confident and promote a positive attitude and acceptance. Fillers such as “Umm”, “like”, etc. help us transition from one word or syllable to another but in fact it takes longer to say something than if we blocked and got over it without using the filler.