Combining the Jump with other techniques and other modes of communication.

The Jump usually works very well, inasmuch as it enables you to continue to quickly and easily get your messages across to listeners when you stammer. However, it is not infallible. Sometimes, as a result of using the Jump, your speech will simply be too fragmented and listeners will fail to recognize what you are trying to say. At such times, you need to have alternative ways of getting the message across that you are willing and able to use as and when they are required. If you don’t have a sufficient range of such alternatives, then you will continue to be afraid of stammering. And, as long as you are afraid of stammering, blocks will continue to occur.

In our experience, people who stammer need three “tools in their toolbox” in order to overcome the fear of blocking, including :

  1. A block modification technique (e.g. The Jump)
  2. A fluency shaping technique (e.g. Orchestral Speech)
  3. A non-verbal alternative (e.g. writing, texting or typing) .

 As far as possible, we advocate using these tools in the order specified above.

In the slide shows below, we provide some broad guidelines and suggestions for how you can go about integrating these three approaches in real-life situations. However, do feel free to experiment in order to see what best suits your own unique circumstances and needs.

Between these slide shows, we discuss the importance of a pragmatic approach to communication and some of the obstacles that need to be overcome in order to be able to adopt such an approach.

If you have previously undergone McGuire or Starfish training, on occasions where the Jump fails to work, instead of repeating the phrase using Orchestral Speech, an alternative is to repeat the phrase using the McGuire/Starfish technique. Further details are in the Youtube video below

The role of non-verbal alternatives as part of a pragmatic approach to communication

If, after using The Jump, Orchestral speech, or a combination of the two, the listener has still not recognized the words you are trying to say don’t keep trying to use these techniques. If they don’t work immediately, it is better to:

  • Find an alternative way of saying it
  • Write it down (or text or type it)
  • Give up and try again later.

We realize that these are controversial proposals that may not rest easily with you. They may also conflict with the advice of some speech therapists. Because this is a contentious issue, we intend to publish an online article discussing this topic in detail in due course. In the meantime, we briefly list here our main reasons for making these proposals…

Your best chances of success in communication are through remaining flexible and pragmatic

When needing to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak the same language, most people feel completely at ease to use whatever approach they think might work. And, as soon as they discover that one approach isn’t working, they are happy to give up and try a different approach.

As people who stammer, it would be helpful if we could develop a similar degree of pragmatism when speaking to people.

In our opinion, the best way to overcome the fear of blocking is to ensure that the disruption to communication caused by blocks is as small as possible. Therefore, the primary consideration when employing a technique is that it helps you to get the message across as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Repeating an unsuccessful strategy is counterproductive

With techniques like The Jump and Orchestral Speech, if they are going to work in a specific speaking situation, they will work straight away. If a technique doesn’t work immediately, abandon it (in that particular instance). Then, if you need to repeat the word or phrase again, repeat it using a different technique.

If, in a particular instance, a technique doesn’t work immediately and despite this you continue to try and use it, your faith in that technique will be undermined and you will find it more difficult to employ successfully in the future.

So, the best practice, when you get stuck on a word is…

  • Try your chosen technique once. (In most situations this will be The Jump)
  • If it doesn’t work first time, try a different technique (e.g. Orchestral Speech or another fluency shaping technique)
  • If that doesn’t work try something completely different. (e.g. substitute different words, or write it down)

Always try your chosen method once before giving up on it

Although you may not feel confident that your chosen method will work in a specific instance, always try it once before giving up on it (in that instance). Giving up on a technique before you’ve even tried it constitutes avoidance and will reinforce your lack of confidence in the technique.

The same applies to word substitution… substituting an alternative word after having tried and failed to say the word you really intended is OK. In contrast, substituting a different word before having tried the original intended word is a form of avoidance and is not OK. Such avoidance will reinforce your lack of confidence in your future ability to say that word.

Take a long-term perspective

There are times when, for one reason or another, it is simply not possible to get a message across. Sometimes listeners are not receptive, sometimes you yourself may not be in a physiological or emotional state that is conducive to successful communication, and sometimes environmental conditions are not conducive to successful communication. If in a specific instance this proves to be the case, (inasmuch as your attempts to speak and to use The Jump and Orchestral Speech are unsuccessful) it may be better to abandon trying to communicate now, and to try again when your listener, yourself, and the environmental conditions are more favorable.  Choosing a more appropriate moment to speak in this way is perfectly reasonable. However, don’t avoid situations just because you lack confidence that communication will be successful—that would constitute avoidance.