I have vivid memories (nightmares) of 8th grade history class. My teacher (a nun) would have the class read out-loud chapters from the history book. Each student would read a few paragraphs from the text book and then my teacher would call on the next student to continue reading.
As a severe stutterer, this was horrifying. The whole class would hear me stutter my way through the couple of paragraphs. Certain syllables and sounds were nearly impossible for me to say and I had no tools to help me avoid stuttering.
As my turn to read would approach, I would always read ahead to see which paragraphs I would have to read. At a quick glance, I could easily see which words I would not be able to say, even before I had to say them. I would hope to get lucky and only have to read a small paragraph or maybe the teacher would overlooked me! That never happened.
My primary tool to avoid stuttering was word substitution (talk around the words I knew I could not say. That was not an option in history class. My mind would race, I would get very stressed and ultimately humiliated in front of my teach, classmates, friends and a girl I was hoping would like me.
Hard consonants at the beginning of words were always problematic for me (e.g. the hard "c" sound in the word Constitution). As you can imagine, lots of words begin with a hard consonant sound! I also struggled with words that did not use my vocal cords to start the word (e.g., the silent "s" sound in the word Seven). I would get stuck making a "sssssss" sound because my vocal cords would not begin to vibrate to say the word.
These daily experiences create horrible memories that reinforced my lifelong struggle with stuttering. Stutters must avoid public stuttering as much as possible and work daily to build POSITIVE speech memories.
Educators and Parents often think forcing a stutterer to wrestle with words in public will somehow be helpful. Just the opposite! NEVER ASK A STUTTER TO SPEAK IN PUBLIC. Please ask the stutterer if they are ready and willing to speak in public. If they say "no", then do not create a situation that will result in more negative speech memories, incredible stress and embarrassment.
After the Stutterer learns and masters the StutterMind methods and tools, he/she will be able to avoid any stutter and begin to build positive speech memories. Eventually and gradually (it took me about 2 months), the stutterer will be able to speak fluently in public!
It is incredibly important to not create situations requiring a stutter to speak in public. Please talk with teachers, parents, coaches, bosses, family members and any other authority figures and firmly request their support! The level of stress for the stutterer will reduce dramatically and their mind-space freed-up to focus on creating positive speech memories!
If you are a stutterer, please ask your boss, teacher and parents to not require you to speak in public while you are working on improving your speech fluency.
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