Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Sudden stuttering.

I get a lot of emails, and every person is different. Here is one such email. What would you suggest to him?

Hi Tom,

I don’t know if you have time for this. But I just feel like writing. You are the first person I have been in contact with for my stuttering problem. I would really like to share my experience since this is my biggest problem recently.

I have never stuttered. I am European and I have been in USA for a year now. I never remember stuttering before. I didn’t even know what stuttering was.

In high school I do remember some situations for a couple of weeks or a month that I couldn’t say FOUR. “Number 4” in my own language begins with “K”. Although it bothered me for a while. It wasn’t a problem to be concerned about and I always had my ups and downs on some other words.

What happened was that I might go through years or more than 6 months without stuttering. Than I would stutter for a while and then it would stop again.

So I never considered stuttering as a problem. I just thought that it happened whenever I wasn’t in a good mood.

In general I wouldn’t consider my self a stutterer. Or maybe 5%. But here is where the problems began. I came here in USA and of course my native language is not English.

I didn’t have trouble for a while and I never thought I would up until my English got better. I mean when it got fluent. And a lot of Americans are surprised by my accent. I barely have an accent. A few people can notice it.

But for the past 6 months I have gone through the most difficult period of my life. I stutter really badly. And it wasn’t up until recently that I have started to make a research about it. I am not a stutterer at all comparing to what I have seen on YouTube. I might stutter 4 or 5 words a day. (I know its nothing). But still those moments kill me personally. And its such a bad feeling. Or some words that I know that I will stutter and always trying to avoid them.

Since you are more experienced I just bought (right now) 5-htp 100 mg pills. Do you think that might help? I don’t have time to go trough therapy and all that. The other thing that I know is that the therapist won’t consider me a stutterer at all.

Because I don’t stutter when I talk about stuttering. Or we might talk to each other for hours and I won’t stutter at all. My stutter is really rare. But I do have some bad days.

The worst situation is. I love Caramel Mocha. Once I went to starbucks and I stuttered when I said it. Now I cant order it anymore. I always stutter at K. (K- aramel) When a friend asks me while waiting on the line “what are you getting?” I just say it normally. But when I get in front of the counter. I cant say it and I order something else.

Should I take these pills? What dose do you recommend?


Anonymous said...

write it down....

Norbert @ BSA said...

We talked about this here at the BSA.

It seems from what you say that you have been stammering on and off, though in the past it's been very mild and not been anything for you to be concerned about.

You are in a new situation and, as Tom pointed out in a previous post in his blog, the neurological basis of stammering and the psychological aspects of stammering are intertwined, certainly in adulthood.

The stress of emigrating, of communicating in a second language, might well be sufficient to exacerbate your (normally very mild) stammer and the fact that you have reached a point where you anticipate trouble in certain situations means that you approach these in the expectation of stammering, which is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The good news is that this is something that speech therapy can certainly help you with without recourse to drugs - especially as the neurological basis for your stammer appears to be very mild. I would contact the US Stuttering Association ( to get advice on how best to access speech therapy where you live.

MommaWriter said...

Even just a couple of sessions of speech therapy might be helpful in a case like yours, I think. Just having access to a few speech tools that you didn't have before could help smooth things out...and probably won't have the side effects that the drugs might have. It's worth a shot if you can find a speech therapist who really knows something about stuttering. That's the real challenge. Find someone who doesn't have to hear your stutter to give you some ideas for tools. I don't know where you are in the U.S., but I know our stuttering therapist in California would be fantastic for that sort of thing.

Anonymous said...