I have heard many PWS express their concerns with using the crutches while they are under pressure. They say “I cannot use the crutches when I am under pressure as my mind goes completely blank!” What they are in fact saying is “I am unable to use the crutches because I do not know them well enough, and I have not invested enough time into practicing them so that they become second nature”.
Think about driving a car. I for one eat, drink, listen to music and audiobooks, speak to other people, speak on the phone (with Bluetooth of course), and all while driving. I have seen many people do some of these things as well. Was this always possible? Of course not. When I first started driving, I did not even know the difference between the clutch and the brakes! I had to give my full attention to braking, puling up the handbrake, accelerating, indicating and sometimes screaming at other people to let me through. There was absolutely no way that I could do anything else other than concentrate 100% on the road and my driving. There were many times when I started panicking and thought I would cause an accident. Things have changed quite a bit in the years since then.
This is exactly how the crutches work. In the beginning, it will take your full attention and concentration, you will not be able to focus on much else. But is this not a good thing? One of the main causes of stuttering is focusing on words. Therefore, by focusing all of our attention on using the crutches (at least in the beginning), we are unable to focus on words, and it will be impossible to stutter!
Eventually, after a few weeks or in some cases months, the crutches will become second nature like driving a car. I can now use the crutches while speaking on the phone, washing the dishes, listening to music in the background and all of those activities occurring without any particular concentration on any particular one of them.
The next time you want to say “the crutches do not work under pressure”, remember that the ease at which the crutches will come to you both when under pressure and when not, is directly proportionate to the amount of work you are willing to put in to mastering them. All it takes is:
- Reading aloud daily while using the crutches;
- Using the crutches when not under pressure;
- Using the crutches while practicing your autosuggestions;
- And of course, concentrating fully on using the crutches when you DO need them.
If you do all of the above, I guarantee that in time you will find yourself under pressure and using the crutches without even thinking about them. It will be at that point that you will smile to yourself and realize that you are capable of avoiding any future stutter by using the crutches, and that you do not have to ever stutter again if you so choose.