How many PWS beat stuttering by simply reading “How to Stop Stuttering and Love Speaking”? That’s what I did – and I had been stuttering very noticeably for more than 70 years! I had perfected the habit of stuttering, but, after reading and re-reading (out loud of course!) Lee’s great book, and applying its methods, I learned the habit of fluency. After I did this, I wrote a “Thank you” email to Lee, and he asked me to Skype with him. During that one Skype, he asked if I would write a Stopped Stuttering Story to post in his Speech Hall of Fame, and I am delighted to do it.
My name is Jeremy, and I live in the United Kingdom. I am 77 years old. I started stuttering at the age of 4, and have the usual abundance of horrible stories and memories from my school days over saying my name, answering the school register roll-call, struggling painfully in class, introducing what I was going to play on the recorder at school concerts, and so on and so on.
I also have the usual stories of being sent to a host of speech therapists, and of not seeing any improvements. And of repeating therapy in mid-life – more positive then as an experience but still no real improvements in my lifelong stuttering.
After university I went into local government as a social worker, and this was my whole working life. I have been retired now for some 20 years. I have stuttered through it all, one painful conversation after another.
Throughout this long time I stuttered (blocks and repeats) on around 20% of words with family and friends, up to 60% with strangers and authority figures, and UP TO 80% in more pressured situations, including telephone calls. Strangely, when the business of saying my name was out of the way, or someone else had said it for me, I was down to the lower figures with meetings, public speaking and interviews (most of the time). But of course I was worrying about my speech, planning my speech, avoiding words, getting anxious, on the edge of panic, hating my uncontrollable silences, blocks and repeats and so on, for most of the time.
I reckon that my brain has been thinking about stuttering up to 50 minutes or so per hour for most of my life. It’s a painful way to live, as most PWS will tell you.
I searched out answers, approaches to fluency, ways of coping with the anxiety and panic, for years, with very limited success. I was a part of some online support groups. I even read books on NLP and neuroplasticity without even a glimmer of recognition as to how these could be applied to help my speech. It took Lee’s book to put all this and more together in a way that I could actually use.
So, what came next? Well, at age 77, my new journey began. After studying his book, I joined WSSA and flooded myself with coaching videos and success stories.
It became just so obvious, after all those long years, that stuttering is nothing more than a learned habit, and that it can be unlearned and replaced by a fluency habit with the Crutches as the way of moving from the old mode to the new mode. I discovered that quite a few of the crutches I already knew well from my decades of weaving a way through the minefields of blocking and repeating, but Lee’s book had more of them and explained how to use them very clearly. I then saw these methods, tools, strategies, crutches, and speech plans not as desperate attempts to avoid inevitable public failure but as a game that I could win – a game to be played while I was creating an optimistic future in my mind of seeing potential blocks dissolve in front of me and a love for speaking – in all situations – starting to grow. Self hypnosis visualizations and affirmations are absolutely key to maintaining these new perspectives. When put side by side with all the earlier years, days and hours of fear and panic and painful suffering, Lee’s methods are just so easy and productive. Some of the old speaking fears take quite a time to weaken their hold, but these too, faced with “hearing fluency and not hearing dysfluency” start to buckle and disappear.
When I emailed my gratitude to Lee for his book, I was really pleased to receive his reply and his offer to Skype. I jumped at it, and I had a great session with him. He stressed that I was “not finished” until I learned to LOVE to speak in ALL situations. That’s going to take some time, but I’m working on it. I am using WSSA’s services and I’m attending SAM Meetings too.
I want now to help as many PWS as I can, just as Lee has been doing most of his adult life. It feels right and good to help Lee and now his charity, the World Stop Stuttering Association, to “kick stuttering off the planet”. That’s a big challenge, but these methods work, and when they become widely known and practised, stuttering will be on its way out.
What’s my advice to PWS? Well, study Lee’s book, How to Stop Stuttering and Love Speaking. Then, join WSSA, watch coaching videos by the hour, attend WSSA’s SAM Meetings, and meet and take advantage of WSSA’s growing community of EX-stutterers. There is no other stutter support group in the world like it. I hope to see you there.
Jeremy, U.K., May 2023