This is a story of 66 years of trying numerous speech therapies to stop stuttering. Unfortunately, I was not able to obtain that goal until the winter of 2021. That is when I happened upon Lee Lovett and his stuttering books. In around 4 months, I learned ways NOT to stutter. That was several months ago, and this is how it happened.
My name is Gary. I began stuttering at around age 5 and continued for the next 66 years. Yes, that is a very long time. If you are thinking you want to write your success story before the ripe old age of 71, do yourself a huge favor and read Lee Lovett’s book ‘Stuttering & Self-Cures‘ now and join the SAM speech and social group (on worldstopstuttering.org).
My story starts with me almost drowning when I was around 5 years old. There has always been a question whether I began stuttering just before or after I almost drowned. My parents told me because the stuttering came on slowly, they just did not remember the before or after time frame.
Fast forward to 3rd grade (8 years old), Mrs. Sullivan’s class. I learned to sweat under my armpits in her class. But, only on Tuesday and Thursday’s at 10 am. You see, that is when she went up and down every row and had each one of us read 2 paragraphs out loud. I blocked, repeated, and tried to push words out. It was very, very humiliating. I gave some consideration of bringing an extra shirt to school on Tuesday and Thursday’s, but never did.
When I was 10 years old, my mother would drive me all the way to New York City for individual speech therapy. My parents did not have a lot of money, so this was a stretch for them. I do remember always stopping at a diner for breakfast before the therapy, and having a toasted roll with butter. The speech therapy did not help, but the buttered rolls were always great. (Lee says I owe him some buttered rolls!)
In high school, my speech continued to be a haunting problem. Many times I refrained from asking or answering questions in class. Somehow, it was difficult to raise my hand when I knew there was a good chance I was going to block and force my words out. I was lucky that my school mates for the most part did not make fun of me. At least not in front of my face. I was the starting second baseman on the baseball team and that may have given me a little leeway from the occasional teasing and bad behavior teenagers’ sometimes exhibit.
While going to college, I took a speech therapy program dealing with airflow. Let out a little air, relax the vocal chords, and begin speaking. Practical, makes sense, as we need air to live and to speak. For the first few weeks I made progress. But unfortunately, I still continued to have disabled sounding speech.
During college, I also began having an interest in body awareness and mind-body connections. I took karate (Tae Kwon Do) for 5 years and also learned Transcendental Meditation. My thinking was the karate would help me reduce anxiety, and the meditation would get me into a relaxed state. And, just maybe improve my fluency rate. The outcome was I was able to kick ass if necessary (which actually is the last thing you want to do when you know how to defend yourself), and get into a relaxed alpha state. But, I only met with minor improvement on the speech front.
In my early 30’s, I took an extensive 3 week speech therapy program. It dealt with breath, stabilization, and keeping the vocal chords vibrating. The therapists were very caring and I did make some progress in the beginning. Once again, unfortunately, I still continued to have disabled sounding speech.
In my 40’s and 50’s, my wonderful wife and I raised 2 children. It was fascinating to watch and listen to my children learning how to speak. They would play with sounds, repeat syllables in a relaxed manner, and then eventually put words and sentences together. I was greatly relieved to see they never struggled with their speech the way I did.
In my 60’s, I read a how-to book on stuttering and practiced relaxing, breathing, and keeping the vocal chords vibrating. Once again, I met with some success, but not the Holy Grail. I still stuttered.
OK, here comes the part where Lee Lovett comes into my life. Now, I am 71 years old and long in the tooth. I went on-line as I have been doing over the last 2 decades, looking for the newest and greatest book on eliminating stuttering. The words ‘Mind-Training & Neuroplasticity’ written on the cover of Lee’s ’Stuttering & Anxiety Self Cures’ book caught my attention.
Unbelievably, Lee responded to my email, and said he would coach me after I finished the book, joined World Stop Stuttering Association, watched 20 video-lessons on the book, and attended or watched a few Saturday WSSA speech club meetings. I did, and Lee has been skyping with me for many months.
Lee’s program is based on a 3 legged approach. First, using speech techniques (also called tools, strategies, or crutches), to avoid stuttering. These are similar to the speech techniques I mentioned above, and many more that I had not learned to avoid stuttering. This also helps decrease your disfluency memory bank. Lee’s techniques were much more extensive and they did enable me to stop having “bad incidents”, as Lee calls ‘appearing to be speech disabled’. The key, as he often said, was to eliminate all bad incidents. When we do this, we begin to unlearn the stuttering habits. In time, through disuse, the stuttering habits die. Lee, lots of his coaches, and around 150 stories like this by ex-PWS are posted on SAA and WSSA. I have read all 150 stories and they are INCREDIBLE, all of them (and now mine) prove Lee’s point.
Second, practicing your speech in a non-stuttering environment. For example, reading out loud to yourself. This reinforces the fact, BELIEF, and memory bank that you can speak fluently, and that there is nothing wrong with your speech mechanism.
Third, auto-suggestions and self-hypnosis. This reinforces and rewires your brain to believe you can speak fluently. It can also be used to elevate your life in many other areas. Self-talk, affirmations, and visualization are an essential part of the program.
Lee’s program also includes the following:
- Over 50 lectures relating to concepts in his books.
- Over 1500 videos of private coaching lessons.
- Over 100+ tips and tricks.
- Over 150 success stories.
- Practice sessions with people who stopped stuttering and who are on the road to stopping stuttering.
I practice every day and my speech continues to improve. I still have some pressure situations where I have a few bumps in the road. However, I have not had an incident where I appeared speech disabled in over a month. Actually, that was pretty hard for me to admit that I am no longer appearing to be speech disabled. Learning to LOVE to speak in all situations is the next hurdle I need to win. That’s beating fear, and that’s a bigger challenge, but, happily, as I work on it, I will not appear speech disabled. As Lee says, “Fear is not stuttering.” He admits to fearing speaking for ten years after he stopped stuttering, but no one knew it or thought that he was, or had been, a stutterer.
As I mentioned, I read all 150 success stories and there were a few comments made about Lee, his program, and his coaches that I would like to share with you. Comments like ‘miracle’, ‘it changed my life’, ‘true savers’, and ‘One of the few people doing great things to make a difference in people’s lives’. Those are some pretty amazing comments, and I agree with them.
I conclude my story by saying, don’t wait to be in your 70’s to stop appearing speech disabled, or to write a success story. Read Lee’s book, contact World Stop Stuttering Association at firstname.lastname@example.org, and/or log on to the worldstopstuttering.org website. It’s the world’s only community of ex-stutterers and they are helping PWS. If you stutter, that IS YOUR community. So, I wish you well and I wish you luck but, as always, you’ll make your own luck.
GARY, New York, September 2021