An almost universal aspect of stuttering is that people who stutter don’t always stutter. There is a small number of people who do stutter more or less the same way and to the same degree whenever they talk. However, they are by far in the minority. Most of the people who I have met who stutter (in the thousands!) tell me that they stutter more when… The ending might refer to people, places, words or letters, eating and sleeping, or even the weather, but most often to “tension, pressure and anxiety.”
In an effort to speak fluently, people who stutter, their family and friends are busy trying to find out what outside factors make them stutter. Their hope is to eliminate, change, or learn how to deal with these factors. The emphasis is on external factors. This search is ineffectual because the external factor is not the problem.
The role of external factors is that they may lead the speaker to use a more, or less, controlled process for speaking. It is the individual’s reaction to outside factors and the way their brain functions when these factors are present that actually causes the fluctuations of stuttered speech. Therefore, it is the individual’s reactions, not the catalyst leading to the reactions, that need to change.
Brain functions are not carved in stone. They fluctuate for the better and worse as a result of experience, learning, practice, self-talk and imagination. When an activity has been done in a certain way over and over again, it becomes automatic and consequently more efficient and less subject to influence by outside circumstances.
Taking control over normally automatic processes will always have a negative effect. We see this when we give too much thought to our body movements when we walk or dance. Controlled action makes us clumsier and less flowing in our movement. The same thing happens with our speech.
Stuttering comes and goes according to the degree that controlled processes function to produce speech. By learning how to produce speech automatically, and by accepting the need to speak without control, people who stutter can develop a stable system that generates fluent speech.