Stammering with severe overt symptoms

If your stammering symptoms are severe, you are likely to frequently fail to get your messages across fast enough and clearly enough to successfully communicate what you want to say, and you may frequently elicit negative responses from listeners. Such experiences can be traumatizing, and as a result, you may well also regularly experience debilitating anxiety and stress when you need to speak and where you anticipate that you will stammer.

If your experiences are like this, the highest priority is to reduce the severity of your symptoms to the point where they no longer prevent successful communication and no longer elicit negative listener responses. The easiest and quickest way to reduce the severity of your stammering symptoms is to start by learning to use a “fluency shaping” technique called “Orchestral Speech”

In common with all fluency shaping techniques, if you use it correctly, Orchestral Speech will substantially reduce the frequency with which you block and will substantially reduce your overt secondary symptoms. However, it will not reduce your underlying fear of blocking. Nevertheless, by making your blocks less frequent and by making your secondary symptoms less severe, it can provide you with a valuable window of opportunity during which you can then start to tackle the root causes of your stammering—through developing a better understanding of the disorder.

Orchestral Speech helps greatly with getting the first few phrases out when you first start speaking to someone. It is also excellent for reading aloud, for giving talks and lectures in situations where there is time-pressure and in situations where you already know exactly what you want to say. But because it requires you to focus on maintaining your intended forward flow of speech, it can be harder to employ in conversations where the subject matter is complicated and where you need to choose your words more carefully. So, once you’ve learned to use Orchestral Speech, we recommend you learn a block-modification technique called the Jump for use in such situations.

The Jump provides you with an easy method to get re-started when you find yourself blocking on a sound or word. In comparison to Orchestral Speech, the Jump allows you to take your time. However, it only works well for mild stammering, hence the need to start off with a fluency shaping technique if your stammering is severe.

Alongside learning to employ these two techniques, it will be useful for you right from the start, to begin working your way through the Understanding Stammering module.

In summary, if your stammering is characterized by severe overt symptoms, we suggest working through the practical modules of the course in this order…

  1. Orchestral Speech
  2. The Jump
  3. Integrating Orchestral Speech and the Jump 
  4. Mindfulness & Cognitive Therapy

In addition to (alongside) these 4 modules, we suggest that you also work your way through as much of the Understanding Stammering Module as you can.

Before starting we suggest that you download the Stammering Checklist. You can access the modules and the checklist directly from the buttons below.

It is a good idea to print the checklist out so you can use it to keep track of what you have covered as you work through the course.

You can work through the course in your own time, moving forward at a rate that is best suited to you. If there are any bits that you find particularly difficult, you can go over them again and again, to ensure you have properly understood them.

If you get stuck, if you can’t understand something, or if you find that one or other of the techniques is not working for you, please do email us to explain what the problem is. It may well be that we have failed to explain something adequately. If so, your feedback will help us to remove any ambiguity or confusion in the text. Whatever the problem, we will do our best to help. Depending on how practical it is (in terms of time and numbers of people requesting help), we may be able to discuss some issues directly with you, over Skype or Zoom. But we cannot guarantee that this will always be possible.


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