People who stutter can become fluent speakers. However, this will never happen by trying to speak fluently.
This might seem like just one more of the many paradoxes related to stuttering, but it is actually common sense. That is, it is common sense if you are talking about playing tennis, dancing, skateboarding, writing, cooking, constructing a chair, or even a sand castle. In all these activities people understand that there is a way to carry out these activities effectively. They know that results depend upon the process that goes into doing them. When results are not as they want them to be, the natural tendency is to think, “Hmmm… What do I need to do differently?” i.e. feel the music, hold my body differently, add more flavors, cut the wood straighter, etc.
For some reason stuttering doesn’t cause people who stutter and those who would like to help them think with that same kind of logic. Perhaps this is part of human nature because it has been going on for centuries. People seem to want to change speech fluency without considering the process of speaking. They want the speech to be smooth by trying to make the speech smooth. They want to get words out fluently, even though words are not a thing to get out, even if you want to get them out gently. They wonder why a person who stutters can speak fluently when alone, but not in front of a crowd. However, they don’t come to grips with how thoughts directly affect speech production, and they don’t focus on how to change both.
The belief that stuttering is a thing, not the result of a process, is so firmly and indelibly planted in peoples’ minds, that it is hard to accept that stuttering doesn’t come and go. It is not a thing that happens to you. It is a challenge for people to accept that stuttering is the brain using an ineffective network for the activity of producing speech. We know from the latest research that people who stutter use a different brain process for producing speech, but in treating stuttering this fact is so often ignored. People still think that you can change stuttering by changing the speech, i.e. speaking rate, number of pauses, levels of tension, etc. The result is frustration, because these techniques only occasionally and only inadvertently cause changes where changes need to be made – in brain processing.
I know many people will not agree with me when I say that people who stutter can become fluent speakers. This is because these people are focused on results (fluency and stuttering). I have seen again and again that people who stutter can change the way their brain functions to produce speech. It takes time, repetition, changing thoughts and awareness. It is not a quick and easy change, but people who stutter can do it, and when they do, naturally fluent speech is the natural outcome.
The greatest breakthrough for people who stutter comes when they say, “Hmmm.. I blocked on my name today. What was I doing that I can change? What were my thoughts and how can I change them?”