Education and self help for people who stammer

Text Box: Stammering Self-Empowerment Programme

The charts below show the self-reported progress made by the individuals who completed the intensive course that we offered between 2012 and 2013. This intensive course has now been discontinued and replaced by free the Online Course. However, the content of both courses is similar.

Participant 1

40 year old male youth worker. He had a severe stammer since 5 years old. Also suffered from social anxiety. Family history of stammering. He had previously attended NHS speech therapy, and several Starfish and McGuire courses. The Starfish method worked well for public speaking, but he had not found it so helpful in spontaneous conversation.  On his initial visit to us he had severe secondary symptoms, including extensive use of force trying to push words out.  He expressed frustration and anger about the ongoing impact of stammering on his life and particularly his failure to control it in conversational settings, despite having invested substantial time and effort in therapies.

This was one of our first participants and the course was still in an early stage of development when he attended. He has returned for a number of refresher sessions over the year.  The 12 month data are encouraging.

 

Excerpts from the 12 month follow-up interview:

Do you use any of the techniques that the SSEP course taught (including The Jump and Orchestral speech), or have you developed any of your own variants of these techniques?

Yes, although I still struggle to put them into practice, however when I do and my mind and body allow me to do so then they work great.

Looking back on the SSEP course, in what ways (if any) has it helped you?

I am much more accepting of my stammer and feel much more positive about my life in general. I feel that I have let some things go that were holding me back. Its more of the psychological breakthroughs I have had rather than major fluency breakthroughs. However, my speech has also got better and I avoid a considerable amount less.

 

Participant 2

28 year old male software developer. Stammered since 5 years old. NHS speech therapy throughout childhood, last time about 18 months before contacting the SSEP. On attending the initial SSEP interview his overt symptoms were severe, with many repetitions and interjections. He reported that he avoided situations that required him to speak and felt that the stammer was holding him back at work and making communication generally very difficult. He found it especially difficult speaking over the phone and under time pressure. The stammer also strongly affected his confidence in social situations.

 

Excerpts from the 12 month follow-up interview:

Looking back on the course, in what ways (if any) has the course helped you?

Meeting other people in the same position as me. Being taught the background theory to stammering and then techniques to help control and skip a potential stammer. In particular the jump and not being word perfect helped.

What (if any) aspects of it did you not find helpful

I found all of it interesting and helpful.

Do you use any of the techniques that it taught (including The Jump and Orchestral speech)?

I use the jump technique daily. Also I no longer feel like I have to be word perfect so I can just ignore troublesome sounds.

How could it be improved?

A little more actual practice and slightly less theory.

Any other comments?

I feel like the course has really helped my stammer and overall confidence. I still stammer but it doesn't matter as much when I do and I know I have the tools to control it.

 

Participant 3

19 year old (male) music student. Stammered since 6 years old. NHS speech therapy between ages 8 and 10. No other therapy since then. Not much change over the past decade, although quite wide fluctuations from day to day.

In the pre-course interview he presented with moderately severe overt symptoms, primarily multiple, rapid part-word repetitions. He self-reported having a lot of difficulty speaking in front of groups of people, ordering things in restaurants and speaking over the phone. He mentioned being strongly affected by people’s responses to stammering, especially when he is conscious of people waiting for him to get his words out.  He said he was embarrassed by the stammer and did not want people to find out about it.

 

Excerpts from the 12 month follow-up interview:

Do you use any of the techniques that the SSEP course taught (including The Jump and Orchestral speech), or have you developed any of your own variants of these techniques?

Yes, more often in situations where I'm talking briefly to strangers eg. on the bus or in a shop, although I still find I have to set myself up to use them eg. I have to decide before.

Looking back on the SSEP course, in what ways (if any) has it helped you?

The SSEP course gave me a much greater awareness of what causes my stammer, and this alone was helpful in learning how to deal with it. The techniques I learnt are helpful, and do work some of the time, though (and this is obviously a personal, subjective thing) I find that there are much larger personal/mental barriers to overcome, and techniques like 'The Jump' are only a quick fix, even when they work; they don't seem to improve my speech on a regular basis.

What (if any) aspects of it did you not find helpful

There weren't any bits that I consciously thought weren't helpful. Maybe there was a little too much scientific information; I would have preferred talking more about mental barriers and things like that, things that were more specific to me, though I realise that that is hard in a group situation.

How could the course be improved?

Making it longer, though I've noticed on the website that this has already happened. I think more individual, one-on-one time, would be helpful - with my stammer, it's often hard to be honest with myself, even harder with a therapist, and even harder still with other people!

 

Participant 4

32 year old, Allied Health Professional (male). Stammered since 4 years old. Family history of stammering. NHS speech therapy throughout childhood. Overt stammering symptoms were most severe age 9-10, then develop successful avoidance strategies. Prior to beginning the SSEP course, his overt symptoms were mild; however, a lot of avoidance and covert behaviours and a strong dislike of being identified as a person who stammers.

Excerpts from the 12 month follow-up interview:

Do you use any of the techniques that the SSEP course taught (including The Jump and Orchestral speech), or have you developed any of your own variants of these techniques?

I have utilised the jump technique on occasion as I feel this best suites my fluency when struggling at the beginning of words.

Looking back on the SSEP course, in what ways (if any) has it helped you?

It has increased my confidence and acceptance of my stammer and also increased my knowledge on the subject matter i.e. possible causes and treatments.

How could the course be improved?

More participants and having the course run on consecutive days.

 

Participant 5

52 year old male civil servant. Stammered since 3 years old. NHS speech therapy as a child. As an adult, several Andrew Bell

courses and McGuire courses. These courses helped to a certain extent with both fluency and confidence. However, fluency gains were not maintained.

 

Excerpts from the 12 month follow-up interview:

Looking back on the SSEP course, in what ways (if any) has it helped you?

I found the course excellent especially the part at not aiming for fluency, that was a real eye opener for me. Sometimes people who stammer can become fixated on their speech, this course doesn't use that mantra, which helped me to become more relaxed around my speech.

How could the course be improved?

An alternative more "hands-on" course could work well. Three days spread a few weeks apart for example...

 

 

Participant 6

22 year old male postgraduate student. Stammered since 7 years old. History of dyslexia and social anxiety. NHS therapy throughout childhood.

 

Excerpts from the 12 month follow-up interview:

Looking back on the SSEP course, in what ways (if any) has it helped you?

It has helped in the sense that I have a greater awareness of Stammering in general and an insight into a different type of therapy which is not normally accessible. For example, previous therapy that I have taken has been with speech therapists who did not necessarily specialise in stammering.

 

Participant 7

51 year old Telecoms consultant. Stammered since 6 years old. Family history of stammering. Slight dyslexia. Previously attended NHS speech therapy, hypnosis, Starfish and NLP courses. Prior to starting the SSEP course, overt symptoms were mild.

 

Excerpts from the 12 month follow-up interview:

Looking back on the SSEP course, in what ways (if any) has it helped you?

I found the course excellent especially the part at not aiming for fluency, that was a real eye opener for me. Sometimes people who stammer can become fixated on their speech, this course doesn't use that mantra, which helped me to become more relaxed around my speech.

 

Participant 8

52 year old Civil Servant, Stammered since 3 years old. No family history of stammering.  

“I have had conventional speech therapy as a child. In my twenties I attended several Andrew Bell courses with miraculous results but relapsed within a few weeks. I have also attended several McGuire courses between 1996 to 2001. They also helped but I was unable to maintain the fluency. I am not looking for a cure but a way of coping. Currently all words are a problem. I totally avoid telephones and dislike introductions in meetings. I stammer everyday during everyday life but am sometimes fluent with my wife.”

Excerpts from the 12 month follow-up interview:

Do you use any of the techniques that the SSEP course taught?

I try to use them but just sometimes. I find the jump is sometimes impossible to implement and when I block it is very difficult to let it go. I don’t use orchestral speech much but use it at home rather than stressful situations where I find it difficult. I have not given up though.

 

Looking back on the SSEP course, in what ways (if any) has it helped you?

I really liked the academic parts of the course and learning about what is actually happening when I block.

A very enjoyable course. I think it may have been better if more than two people were on the course as after it while it was very relaxed and everybody was more or less fluent meaning that we could not practice the jump so well.

 

Participant 9

43 year old (male) e-commerce manager. Started stammering at 6 years old. Family history of stammering. NHS speech therapy as a child and at 29 years old. As an adult, also attended McGuire and Starfish courses which resulted in temporary remission of the stammering.

Looking back on the SSEP course, in what ways (if any) has it helped you?
It helped me to see that there was a way to speak fluently and 'naturally'. This was the first time I'd been able to see and use natural sounding speech as shown on a therapy course. It also opened the door to meeting new people who also stammer and being able to open up more about the condition.

Participant 10

37 year old male musician, stammered since 4 years old. Also social anxiety. NHS speech therapy for 11 years.

 

Excerpts from the 12 month follow-up interview:

Looking back on the SSEP course, in what ways (if any) has it helped you?* 
Three main ways it helped: 1. The education part. Being more aware of it helps to put it into context and is empowering. In particular the need to produce perfect speech has stuck with me. 2. Being around other stammerers has a lasting positive impact on my self esteem. (There are others like me and therefore I am OK etc.) 3. Seeing that the techniques were successful in the first couple of weeks post therapy reminds me that there are many ways to alter the typical course of stammering. Hence we do have some control over it.

 

Participant 11 (12 month follow-up data not provided)

31 year old network developer. Bilingual (English is 2nd language). Stammered since 8 years old. Severe and overt as a child. Had some private speech therapy approximately 1 year prior to SSEP course.

 

Effectiveness of Therapy                         (OASES results)

Clarification of OASES SCORES

The scores cited  correspond to the scores from the following sections of the OASES questionnaire:

 

Physical Symptoms:             1A,

Lack of Knowledge:             1B,

Impact on Self-esteem:        1C

Reactions to stuttering:        2A-2C

Communication difficulty:  3A-3D

Impact on QOL:                     4A-4E

Total impact score:               1A-4E

SSEP