At the recent National Stuttering Association convention, there were many conversations revolving around the conflict that people who stutter often experience. It is whether to use “speech tools” or accept oneself as a person who will always stutter. When I hear people struggling to decide which path to follow, I so want to tell them that there is an entirely different way, a way of self-acceptance and the ability to speak with easy and natural fluency.
The speech tools and techniques that people falsely believe are their only hope for improving fluency fall under the classification of fluency shaping techniques and ways of modifying stuttering. At best, some of these techniques may reduce the incidence of stuttering at times to some degree. However, even when this happens, most do not lead directly to normal brain function for the production of speech. They require effort, thinking about how to say words, speaking at a measured rate or remembering to stutter purposefully in conversations, just to name a few. It is no wonder that many people who stutter tire of using these artificial techniques in order to control their speech, that they may not realize is already being produced with too much control.
The brain is meant to produce speech automatically, while we concentrate on the ideas that we want to communicate to the listener. Controlling words and trying to get them out interferes with automatically producing speech and leads to the feeling of being out of control as you stutter without being able to prevent it. Using speech tools in addition further reduces the automatic production of speech. Even if stuttering is reduced, the brain is not functioning naturally.
Some people who stutter are so used to using an ineffective neural (brain) network for speaking that they use it even when not consciously controlling their speech. They can learn and experience the neural network that is aligned to the principles of normal speech production. It requires attention, a different intent and repetitive activity. The result is normally fluent speech.
There are options for people who stutter. One option is to accept stuttering and to live a full life as a person who stutters. Another option is to stutter internally with or without stuttered speech as you use tools and techniques not used by normally fluent speakers. The third option is to change the way your brain functions when speaking so that you are speaking normally, naturally, and without effort or control. This change is possible, because it is now known is that even adult brains can change in function and even in structure.