Crutch #1: The Most Popular Crutch


In the context of stuttering, a “crutch” is a term used to describe various techniques or strategies that people who stutter (PWS) use to help manage and mitigate their stuttering. Crutches are not a “cure” for stuttering but rather a set of tools that individuals can employ to make their speech more fluent and less challenging. These crutches can provide temporary relief from stuttering and help boost a person’s confidence in their ability to communicate effectively.

Crutch #1 is so incredibly effective and popular among people who stutter (PWS) that it deserves an extensive discussion. What makes it even more appealing is that it’s relatively easy to combine with other crutches, making it a versatile tool in the battle against stuttering. For many, Crutch #1 has even managed to tackle the fear of the First Feared Word (FFW) single-handedly.

Many people who stutter are particularly apprehensive about certain words, and these include (1) their own names, (2) other people’s names, and (3) any word for which there is no substitute or alternative, often names again. These are words that strike fear into the hearts of many PWS, and understandably so.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. The key to overcoming the fear of these words is to master saying them. In my experience, I’ve found that helping PWS learn various easy techniques for tackling names can be highly effective. I often tell them, “Give me 30 minutes to drill you on saying names, and you’ll NEVER falter over a name again.” The key is to approach it with a positive attitude, openness to trying new methods, and a willingness to practice.

One remarkably straightforward method to say any name is to omit the first letter or syllable. It’s a surprisingly simple technique that provided me with immediate relief when I first tried it. Even more, it’s a technique that can be used discreetly, so others won’t even notice you’re doing it. This method works particularly well for words with multiple syllables, allowing you to focus on the part of the word you can pronounce fluently.

However, there is a potential issue with this technique. When you omit the first letter or syllable of some words, such as saying “ology” for “geology,” the result might not make much sense. To address this, I found it effective to immediately correct myself. For instance, I would say, “ology-geology,” and seamlessly continue my conversation. This method allowed me to maintain the flow of my speech and, interestingly, provided a certain degree of masking for the initial error. In many cases, other PWS I’ve known were capable of implementing this technique. After initially stumbling over a word, they could then correct it by saying it correctly immediately afterward, provided they did it right away.

In some cases, I combined Crutch #1 with other crutches. For instance, I’ve occasionally spelled the feared word, especially with names. For example, “ee-L-E-E.” I’ve also used extreme pronunciation (Crutch #9) in combination with Crutch #1 by dropping the first letter or syllable. This versatility is what makes Crutch #1 one of the most popular crutches, as it is easy to use and works effectively in many cases.

However, it’s important not to overuse a crutch. Relying too heavily on a single technique can become monotonous, and it might not be as effective in the long run. Overusing a single crutch could lead to a lack of spontaneity in your speech, as well as the possibility of other stuttering behaviors surfacing.

The Power of Omitting First Letters or Syllables

By omitting the first letters or syllables of feared words, you may find that the rest of the words become significantly easier to say. This technique can set you on a path to fluency by helping you avoid the initial obstacle that triggers your stutter. Once you’ve successfully tackled the “hard” word (minus the first letter or syllable), you can relax and let momentum guide you through the rest of your thoughts. If fear creeps in again, you can simply repeat the process: skip the first letter or syllable of the First Feared Word (FFW).

Most of the time, people will understand what you’re saying, and if you drop your voice slightly when omitting the initial part of the word, it can further mask the omission. Over time, you can become highly proficient at using this technique, and your selective omissions will go unnoticed by your listeners. It’s like hitting a grand slam home run in your battle against stuttering.

Combining Crutch #1 with Whispering for Total Invisibility

If you want to take using Crutch #1 to the next level and make it entirely undetectable, consider combining it with Crutch #7 (whispering). By whispering the word or one syllable of it so softly that no one can hear it, you can then insert the full word into the whispered part. This approach ensures that your speech remains smooth and fluent, and it works for virtually every word.

Stuttering is notorious for making people dread certain letters or words, and avoiding them successfully can be a massive confidence boost. When a person who stutters manages to communicate an entire thought without stuttering, it’s a double win. Not only does it resolve the immediate challenge, but it also diminishes the fear that lingers for future interactions.

Overcoming Fear, One Instance at a Time

To stop fearing stuttering, the focus should shift to stopping the very next instance of stuttering. This concept is crucial for conquering stuttering one step at a time. Every small victory lowers the Stutter Fear Meter and elevates the Fluency Confidence Meter. It’s essential to remember that allowing yourself to fall back into old stuttering habits without utilizing your crutches won’t lead to much, if any, progress.

Unfortunately, I’ve encountered individuals who have tried multiple therapies and struggled with stuttering for an extended period. Despite their extensive experience, they are often resistant to trying new methods for more than a few minutes. They might say, “I won’t manipulate my speech.” However, the core of stuttering recovery isn’t about manipulating speech; it’s about retraining your mind one step at a time. Overcoming stuttering involves using crutches, auto suggestions, and developing fluent memories until the ultimate day arrives when you think only about your ideas, your passion, and your joy in speaking, free from all fear. It’s about genuinely loving to speak and believing in your own ability to do so fluently. It’s like drinking your own “cool-aid” and positively brainwashing yourself for the better.

As Lao Tzu wisely said, “The longest journey begins with the first step.” In the context of stuttering, dropping the first letters or syllables is that initial step. The best time to start using this technique is now, the next time you speak and encounter a moment of stuttering fear. Remember that life is about the present moment. The past is history, and the future is uncertain. The only time that truly matters and is within your control is right now. Embrace the Crutch #1 program right now.

Reading this blog isn’t enough; you must actively practice the techniques as you go along. If you can read aloud without stuttering, take that as an opportunity to practice dropping the first letters or syllables of some words. This book requires “on the job” training and active participation. Utilize the techniques as you read and start winning the battle against stuttering one small step at a time.

Moving Forward

While Crutch #1, which involves omitting the first letters or syllables of words, is an essential tool in the arsenal against stuttering, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Stuttering is a complex speech disorder with multiple layers, and different individuals may find that various crutches and techniques work better for them. The key is to remain open to experimentation, actively practice these techniques, and gradually reduce their use over time as you build confidence in your ability to speak fluently.

In the next sections of this blog series, we will explore the remaining 12 crutches, each offering a unique perspective and approach to managing stuttering. Remember, the journey to fluency and confident speech may take time, but with dedication and the right strategies, it’s entirely achievable.

Stay tuned for more insights into Crutches 2 through 13 and how they can help you gain control over your stuttering and unlock your full potential as a communicator.

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