Wednesday, March 20, 2013

5 minutes on stuttering: It's not the technique that matters but that they are delivered in a social environment made of fellow stutterers.


Anonymous said...


I want you to do this.
Take your time on your next video. Dont stutter AT ALL. Speak very calmly and think every word.

We all know what word we will stutter on but our brain doesnt stop and goes on and on speaking and thus we stutter.

I want to see how much you can speak in 5 minutes slowly and calmly taking as long a pause as you want.

I will give you a topic.
"In 25 sentences tell me the future of stuttering"
Take 5 minutes and DONT STUTTER on any word. Even if you can manage even 10 sentences its cool

Jerome said...

I'm not sure I agree. I think there are better and less good techniques. That might be different for different people though, meaning technique1 works best for Joe while technique2 works best for Jane.

I agree though that it's always easier to implement those techniques in a comfortable setting than 'in the real world'.

And a nice challeng, btw, by that first commentator.

Anonymous said...

I want to encourage you to post further videos. They help me a lot. Please disregard the comment from the first commentator.

Anonymous said...

Here's my opinion, I'm happy for any comments!

If it was as easy as the first commentator suggests, stuttering would no longer be a problem! Stuttering means loosing control of your speech so how should a stutterer be able to slow down on purpose! The advice "slow down" is equivalent to "speak without stuttering". It just doesn't work!

I think stuttering typically means that you're not able to speak out certain words in specific moments where you really intend to! So when a stutter really intends to speak out "rugby" he is not able to do so. He's still able to talk about heaps of random things he doesn't really wants to talk about. But when he comes back to "rugby" (or topics related to rugby) he starts stuttering again. Hereby it doesn't matter whether he takes a brake or speaks slowly!

Robert van de Vorst said...

Hi Tom,

Thanks for your time sharing your opinion on several stuttering-related topics with us; I really appreciate your website and your knowledge.

However, I do think you missed the point in the last video when you say that 'no matter what you do, it will always be effective because of the social environment...'.

Many studies point out to the fact that stuttering might not be a speech-specific problem but rather a neurological disorder affecting general coordination (incl non-speech tasks, for example finger tapping). Faulty timing or coordination can be improved to a certain extent, providing you are practicing correctly. So I certainly do think - also judging from my own experience - that certain techniques or methods for some people are going to be more effective than others. I really don't think that the effectiveness that many people have experienced can be explained exclusively by psycho-social adaptation. I think just more research need to be done on this topic.

Could you comment on this?

Tom Weidig said...


All I said was that any technique is effective in that they kick-start change. They change our beliefs systems and emotions which reduces our handicap, because they bring us into a social environment that induces this change.

I did not say that some techniques are NOT more effective than others in achieving greater speech fluency or control. And it depends on the person and his issues.

Tom Weidig said...


>> I agree though that it's always easier to implement those techniques in a comfortable setting than 'in the real world'.

That was not really my point. My point was that if you look at what really helped the people who stutter during therapy, you will realize that it was not the technique but the people that you met there. They helped your have different perspective on stuttering and helped you become more relaxed. The techniques are probably contributing less to the positive outcome.

Jerome said...


> The techniques are probably contributing less to the positive outcome.

I guess we have to agree to disagree then. It's not because your therapies didn't help you much that this can't be the case for other people. Just ask Einar, for example ;)

But of course it's always nice to know that you're not alone (something you discover in group therapy). But that in itself won't really help you much in everyday life with becoming more fluent, or to stutter less.

Personally I've simply become more relaxed (and more self-conscious) with age and by having certain experiences in life in general, most of them not related to people who stutter.

Robert van de Vorst said...


"I did not say that some techniques are NOT more effective than others in achieving greater speech fluency or control. And it depends on the person and his issues."

Well, in your previous video ("Is costal breathing effective") you actually say: "I think that all methods equally well fail", a statement I highly doubt if that is true. I agree though that it will depend also on the person itself.

Tom Weidig said...


I agree with you it does not look very consistent. Let me fine-tune my message.

What I really wanted to say was: No technique stands out as the technique that can make you more fluent on its own. You also need to make a lot of efforts to learn, apply and stay with the the technique. All reasonable techniques if you master them and you focus hard will make you more fluent. So it is not really about the technique per se, but about your willingness to analyse your behaviours, learn a technique, and then practise, practise and practise. In that sense, all techniques fail to provide us with the solution, because it is not really about the technique but mostly about the ability to implement which has nothing really to do with the technique itself.

And most people will fail in this goal. But ironically, people still benefit significantly from any techniques, because these techniques are taught and practised in social environment that endure psychosocial change, which have a lasting impact on our well-being and reduce the handicap of stuttering.

When I said that some techniques might be more effective. I meant that some techniques might make it easier to be implemented. But the difference between the different techniques is probably not very big, and very much depends on the person.

So my main message is: don't look at the technique as the answer to outcome success, but at the social environment and the ability of the practise to take whatever technique and learn it and implement it.

does that make more sense? :-)

Tom Weidig said...

sorry for all the spelling mistake... i wish this were facebook where i can go back and edit.

Robert van de Vorst said...

Hi Tom,

Thank you very much for your clarification; I agree with most of what you say. It is certainly true that the most significant part is actually the consistency of analysing, learning and practice, rather than the technique itself. It is also true that psychosocial factors can very positively add to this, even when the technique is actually totally useless.

Personally, I have never understood why people are so enthusiastic about the mcguire technique, because it makes speaking actually harder, at least physically (see also Reitzes article about it on the stuttering homepage). For me, clear mental preparation, correct timing, rhythm and relaxation of the body have a much more positive effect, but this might be a very subjective experience of course...
This is why I said that some techniques may have a better outcome for some people.

Who knows, maybe someday there will be an approach which encompasses all useful elements and will help all of us!

Anyway, thanks again for your answer and please keep up the good work ;-)

Tom Weidig said...

>> For me, clear mental preparation, correct timing, rhythm and relaxation of the body have a much more positive effect, but this might be a very subjective experience of course...

In a sense, it is just normal speech. And that might be its downfall. It is just normal speech, nothing special. Effectively, you are telling them to speak normally! ;-)

A special technique is something more mysterious AND it is different to normal speech patterns and so easier to distinguish?

Have you heard of ROPANA? He very much focuses on normal speech.

Robert van de Vorst said...


Well, shouldn't we try - at least if our goal is to be more fluent - try to implement essential components underlying normal speech? Is it not our ultimate goal to strive for free natural speech (whatever that means)?

And yes, for me, the process of shifting from stutter-like speech to this other mode, what you refer to as normal speech, is actually something mysterious!

I've always wondered how artificial, 'special' techniques must ultimate lead to effortless fluency, which in itself is actually the opposite of doing anything 'special'...

But then, when you try to do something normal having an abnormal brain, it may be already doing something special ;-)

Evan Hallmark said...

Very interesting debate. I recently completed my own analysis into the treatment of stuttering. Check out my free guide, I am looking for honest feedback.

Robert van de Vorst said...

@Evan Hallmark:

Ok, here my opinion:

Sounds very much like those "Kill your stutter"-kind of advertisement. Your tips (yoga, meditation, etc.) are not new and will probably only alleviate some symptoms for some people who stutter, but not eliminate them, let alone cure stuttering.

Since scientific research indicates that developmental stuttering arises from neuro(bio)logical abnormalities in the brain caused by genes and/or developmental issues, which can at best be compensated or adapted, PLEASE STOP ADVERTISING A CURE OR A DEFINITE SOLUTION WITHOUT PROPER SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION!!

Tom Weidig said...

@Robert van de Vorst:

I like the clarity of your responses. You have a very clear mind. You must be a physicist or something like that? ;-)

Send me an email so we can stay in touch:

If you ever want to write a guest post, let me know!

Anonymous said...


For a bright guy why is it you never apply critical thinking skills to your steadfast views on stuttering? If what you said in this true about there being no single component seemingly effective then would this not mean the therapies work because they achieve it through psychological means?
This would be true also if you believe the social environment causes the greatest effect would it not?
Yet according to you stuttering is not psychological!
I have not watched any of your other videos but your speech is atrocious. Far worse than a speech I saw you give. If not psychological then what could explain this?
The McGuire Programme, which I have done, is surrounded by so much mis-information it is laughable. It does NOT make speaking harder - it makes it simpler. I will not elaborate on this because those with these views seem to have motivations to knock everything that threatens them in some way. My sole comment would be that people want to run before they can walk and for a period they need to break down the sections of their speech into components and get each clear of dysfunctional behaviours before being capable of running without tripping - a stutter is surrounded with a lifetime of baggage, it's need to be cleared.
As for Reitzes article - no intelligent person would give that any academic weight whatsoever. It is an opinion piece coming from ignorance of the Programme. It contains no supporting evidence despite the pseudo-references included which are either peripheral non-related research or worse still where he quotes himself! The programme does costal breathing but that is merely the starting component of a myriad of tools to treat all the conditions surrounding the stutter. Focus on any one component of an holistic treatment is like saying the pill bottle has no therapeutic properties therefore the medicine cannot work.
I wonder how many of you have tried any of these therapies whether they be McGuire or other. You seem to have resigned yourself to a life of intellectualising the unintellectualisable - why?
I do not believe stutterers are different to each other. I believe they share common traits but to varying degrees or dis-common traits spawned from similar roots psychologically or physically.