A Message To The Person Who Stutters
This is a special message to the person who stutters.
It expresses our orientation to your problem.
When individuals are under stress they get tense. The
tension can be measured. Electrodes can be attached to the muscles and
sent to an appropriate measuring instrument. When this has been done in
the past, it has been observed that some people get more tense than others
and that everyone seems to have a spot on the body where they focus their
tension. This spot is called the Target Area. People are born with it,
and sometimes it is inherited.
The five most common Target Areas for people are the
muscles of the shoulders, the abdominal wall, the face, the hands,
and the lower back. Most people, under conditions of stress, tend to focus
tension at one of these five areas. But in addition to these, there are
a group of other Targets, affecting small percentages of people. One of
these, affecting two and a half percent of the people in the world, are
the muscles in and around the vocal cords.
It is our contention, derived from the results of many studies, that all people who stutter come
from this two and a half percent subpopulation. In other words, people
who stutter are born with a Target Area at their vocal cords; people who
stutter are born with the tendency to get "all choked up" when under conditions
And when they are young, usually between two and eight, and under some condition of stress (like having a new baby
brother born, starting school, parents getting a divorce, moving to a new
neighborhood, having to rush to get a word in edgewise, learning to speak their language at the rates with which they hear their parents
speaking that language) - whatever the stress is, is not too important,
but what is important is that on a particular day there be enough stress
present, focusing enough tension at the cords, that as they begin to speak
their vocal cords lock.
When this happens they can't speak and so they begin
to struggle to release the lock. The struggle becomes a habit and it's
what the world sees and hears and calls stuttering. So stuttering is learned struggle behavior, learned in childhood to release a child
from an inborn, often inherited, tendency to lock their cords when under
conditions of stress.
As they get older the original stresses disappear.
They are replaced with new stresses. There are three particular stresses
that people who stutter suffer from: feared sounds, feared words, and feared
speaking situations - and now, in response to these stresses, they lock
their vocal cords and fire off their stutter reflex. Or, instead of letting
that happen, they learn to substitute easy-to-say words for difficult ones,
or learn to use starters to get their vocal cords vibrating, or remain
silent, or learn simply to avoid difficult speaking situations altogether.
Often they become so good at these avoidance behaviors
that many people do not know they have a problem. They become "closet stutterers."
But most of the time they display a combination of both avoidance and struggle.
The key to dealing with the problem is not to treat the stuttering
or the avoidances (that's conventional speech therapy) but instead
to treat the trigger for the stuttering - the locking of the vocal
cords. If this can be accomplished, speech invariably emerges fluent. See The NCS Model of Stuttering, better
yet, read Stutter No More or watch the video.
The National Center For Stuttering: 1-800 221-2483