Thursday, September 08, 2005

Welcome to Pebbles Under the Tongue

My name is John MacIntyre. I am a 37 year old software developer living in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. I am married with 2 kids (3 before this blog is finished). I am a fairly normal guy in all aspects of my life with one exception; I have been stuttering since about the age of 7. This problem has influenced every aspect of my life, from what I order at McDonalds to the career I chose.

Over the years my stuttering has changed quite a bit and has cycled through almost total fluency and total non-fluency. At one point in my life; my jaw would lock wide open and nothing would come out until I almost passed out from not breathing. Then I would take a breath, try again, and lock again. This could go on for up to an hour.

My stutter has also changed over the years from the normal s-s-s-stutter to blocking* to something completely different. As it is now, over the phone I could easily be mistaken for somebody with a serious mental illness.

Anyway, on Friday, I received a letter announcing that I have been accepted into an intensive Precision Fluency Shaping Program starting on October 17th. Basically I will be attending speech therapy full time for 3 weeks.

My experience in therapy is what this blog is all about.

Questions and comments are welcome, I will read everything. I’ve tried to anticipate some questions you may have about the blog. Please find them below.

Thank you for joining me in this experience.

John MacIntyre

What does “Pebbles Under the Tongue” mean?

I met a stutterer, in 1993, who grew up in India. When he was a child, and his problem became apparent; his parents took him to the doctor. The doctor told him to go to the beach every day, place pebbles under his tongue and read the newspaper aloud! WOW that's bad !!! While my speech therapy on the other side of the world in Nova Scotia was a bit more sophisticated, it wasn’t any more effective.

Why blog this?

Well there are a few reasons why I am writing this blog :

  1. Give an overview of my problem.
  2. Explain how it has affected my life.
  3. Give an overview of the Precision Fluency Shaping Program.
  4. Journal my unique experience in the therapy.
  5. Hopefully provide insight, hope, and/or inspiration to others who share my infliction.

What will I try to cover in this blog?

I see this blog as having 3 stages each with it’s own objective :

  1. Preceding therapy – A couple times per week, I will try to explain my problem and how it influences my life. I may provide videos online to show how I currently stutter and problems I have interfacing with the world. My views on the following topics will probably be covered:
    * Stuttering as a disability
    * How others react, and how it has changed as I get older
    * The Precision Fluency Shaping Program
    * Growing up with a speech problem
    * Effects on job searching, career direction, and career limitations.
    * Videos of my interfacing with the world
    * A day in the life
    * Answer any questions anybody has
  2. During therapy – Every day I will discuss my therapy, what I’ve learned, and how I’m proceeding. Online videos of me practicing and transferring the learned skills to the real world are a possibility.
  3. Post therapy – Discuss my follow up, progress, and issues transferring what I learn into the real world. Joining toast masters is something I am seriously considering. Follow up posts will probably be weekly at first, then taper off over the next year.

* Blocking is where the voice box closes before air starts passing through, so you end up trying to push the air through forcibly. But the harder you push, the tighter your voice box gets, making it even more difficult to break the block.

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


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