Monday, September 12, 2005

Transcript – Introduction video


I have recorded and posted a short video of me talking about how my stutter has evolved over my lifetime. It is available at

I've posted the transcript below.

In the video I discuss how "What's your name?" is a dreaded question by people with speech problems. The reason the name question is so potent, is because with almost anything else, you can shrug, to say “I don’t know” … but you can’t exactly do that with your name now can you. ;-)

The video is kind of embarrassing. It's been a while since I've seem myself on video and I forgot how bad I am. I wasn't even sure if I should post it, but I figure it isn't exactly a secret, I mean the staff at Tim Horton's sees this from me every single day.

Some of the things I reveal in this blog will be personal and embarrassing by their very nature. But I will attempt to post as much as is relevant in order to provide a complete before and after image of my problem.

John MacIntyre

Hi, I am John MacIntyre

Welcome to Pebbles Under The Tongue.

A bit of a caveat; I am not a speech therapist, and I know almost nothing about speech therapy. … absolutely nothing about speech therapy. All I know is about my experiences and what I am going to learn in therapy.

I started stuttering at about the age of 7, I had a normal stutter. I had a b-b-b-bob sort of stutter. It developed at about the age of 7 years old.

My understanding is that at about 7 years old, speech becomes a motor skill. And my understanding about my problem is not that I have a nervous problem, or I am easily intimidated, or anything of that manner. I just have a defective motor skill.

So I started at about the age of 7, I tried to over come it by stomping my feet, or punching my leg in order to provide a distraction. It worked for a very limited time .. then after that, I was just bruising my leg, and stomping my feet for no reason. I’ve developed a lot of things like that in order to compensate for my speech problem. But none of them work, obviously, and they just wind up making me look kind of foolish.

When I became a teenager, I stopped stuttering and started blocking. It’s simply .. if you block, your voice box closes before any air passes through it and you end up trying to force air through. And the hard you try to force it, the more you block. So it’s a never ending cycle. I wounded up holding my breath, blocking, until I almost … I turned purple and almost passed out because I wasn’t breathing. Then I would stop, then I would block again. I would do this continuously.

However, because of avoiding speaking situations, and through body language and gestures, I was actually able to get around it in social situations. If I knew I was going to block … and I know I’m going to block … anybody who doesn’t stutter; .. I know when I’m going to block. I know the words I’m going to have problems with a few seconds before I get to them. So if I felt a block coming on, I just wouldn’t say anything … I would use a gesture, body language, what ever … or I’d kind of get a friend to do it.

The only problem that I had was when somebody confronted me and I had to give them an answer. For example; if somebody asked me what my name was. All stutters hate this question.

And then in my early 20’s my speech problem became a whole different animal. It was worse then, then it’s ever been. Even now I speaking very well compared to how I spoke then.

At that time, I was about 23, and I would begin to talk and my jaw would open, and I would basically lock my jaw open. My voice box would seize up, and I would completely block. And basically, I would just … I would be trying to talk and [demo-Open jaw] …

It started off just locking open a little bit, and then after a while, it exaggerated until I was locking my mouth completely wide open, in order to try to get this thing out … and I just … I could not speak at all.

It was pretty bad. Honestly, I don’t know how I got a job, I don’t know how I did anything. I really can’t figure out how I maintained any of my friends or maintained my job, how I even managed to move up to Toronto.

But now my speech problem has once again become something completely different. Now sometimes I will get stuck on a syllable and I will lengthen that syllable and I will exaggerate it, and I won’t have any control over my pitch or the volume.

Also something that I have too, is that once I begin to block, I will … because once I get past a block, I don’t want to take the risk of blocking again, I will use every bit of air that I have .. even after the point where nobody can hear me speak. Sometimes I will keep talking after all my air has run out, nobody can hear anything that I am saying!

So hopefully this will all be fixed!

One more thing too; a lot of times a stutterer will get stuck on a specific word or a specific sound. For example; the S sound, or a popping sound like P or B. And they can’t get past that at all. I always figured that, as a kid that, it was only specific sounds, and once I got though those, I’d be fine. However, I’ve found that, I’ve gone through every single sound and at one point in my life I could do the “S” sound with no problem, and at another point, I would be stuttering on that and the “S” sound would be my problem. And then a year after, I wouldn’t have problems on S’s at all, but I’d have a problem on B or P for example.

I also found that; my stuttering has changed. It’s gone from a regular stutter which I found highly irritating into the mess my speech is now. I wish could have s-s-s type of stutter! I wish I had a normal stutter. I mean I wish I didn’t do this at all … but if I could go back to a normal stutter .. I’d be pretty damn happy!

So it kind of grows and evolves. And my stutter has gotten worse.

I mean even now I feel like I’m speaking fluently, compared to how I normally speak. And how I normally speak, I feel is a lot more fluent than how I was in my early or mid 20s. … if you can believe that. In my mid 20s I was almost 100% non-fluent. I mean .. I could not speak at all.

Anyway, I hope I haven’t gotten too much off the beaten topic. And again; welcome to Pebbles Under The Tongue.

Not meant as advice, please find a qualified therapist if you are interested in similar therapy.


At Sunday, September 18, 2005 10:55:00 AM, Blogger Geoffrey said...

Good luck on therapy. I stutter as well, am also 37, and have also noticed it getting worse recently. Let us know how it goes.

At Sunday, September 18, 2005 11:58:00 AM, Blogger John MacIntyre said...

Thanks for the encouragement Geoffrey. It's appreciated.


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