What is stammering, after all??

I came across a thought somewhere: PWS often lack self-awareness, in the sense that they are acutely aware of the other (the audience reaction, real, imagined or feared) but no awareness of what is going on in their own bodies (throat, chest, mouth, face etc) or in their own minds (expectations of failing, fear, biases, embarrassment, shame, anger etc..).

Well, this is true also of so many of humanity too. We all are good at telling others what is wrong with them, but rarely have insights into our own true strengths and weaknesses. But may be it is more often a fact with CWS and PWS. Many children dont really know what all truly comes under the definition of stammering. Here is a list from David Ward, in a book titled ‘Stuttering and Cluttering’. Hetal Vin had very kindly passed it on to me. This list, I found was quite exhaustive and enlightening for me as a PWS at 50!

1. Hesitation (of one second or longer).
2 Interjection (such as “um” and “er”).
3 Phrase/sentence revision (where a speaker goes back to rephrase the
sentence or phrase).
4 Unfinished word.
5 Phrase/sentence repetition.
6 Word repetition.
7 Part-word repetition (which can be either sound, syllable or multisyllabic
repetitions).
8 Prolongations (the unnatural stretching of a sound).
9 Block (a cessation of sound, which can either be momentary or lasting,
arising from an occlusion in the vocal tract which is either at an
inappropriate location; at an appropriate location, but mistimed; or
both). Blocks are usually accompanied by increased localized tension.
10 Other (amongst other possibilities, this may include inappropriate
breathing patterns).

But obviously almost all the categories above could also be found in normal speech- as normal disfluencies; Except blocking. So what indicates the difference between normal and abnormal fluency if there is such an overlap?

First, the severity of each moment of disfluency will be a factor. A person
producing a single repetition of a single syllable word ten times in five minutes
of talking, is unlikely to be considered as stuttering; on the other hand,
a person repeating the same word eight times will likely to be perceived
as having a speech problem, even if such an event occurs only twice in a
five-minute speech sample… and so on..

In next few posts, I will excerpt some therapy ideas too form this book. Keep checking it out.

2 Comments

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  1. Akash 10 years ago

    Awareness comment is perhaps true. I have heard “You don’t pay attention to what I speak” in past. How could I while I was too occupied thinking what no in fact how should I respond to avoid block? This mental gym surely must be shifting attention from what a listner is expected to do. May be PWS tend to be bad listners?

  2. Sachin 10 years ago

    Yes, I agree. This happened to me too many times- the poor listening. Then, I learned about “Active listening skills” and began consciously practicing them…It is like broadening our narrow focus into a much holistic awareness of what is happening with and what is happening without- and giving the “due” to our conversation partner as well..

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