Monday, October 17, 2005

PFSP-Day 1-Intro and Stretched Syllable

Today was my first day of therapy. And the first thing I learnt, is that I live too far away. I got on the GO Train at 7:00am into Toronto, then I got on the subway, then I had to switch trains. I just caught every train as it was leaving, so I couldn’t have gotten there any faster, and I got to therapy at 8:35. 95 minutes in transit, one way! Tomorrow I have to catch the 6:30 train.

My therapy is at Speech Foundation of Ontario’s, Stuttering Centre. And as you might expect, today started off going around the room, talking about who we are, and our personal challenges with regards to stuttering. It is a small group with 6 available spots open, one therapist (Lori), and Dr. Kroll who runs the center.

Lori, the therapist introduced the program, and had us fill in questionnaires, while Dr. Kroll took each of us aside to video tape our current fluency. I was speaking clear as day .. which is quite aggravating. It’s not going to make much of a before / after comparison is it? I must say though, that I’ve never complained about fluency before.

We then discussed speech mechanics. There are 2 major sound groups; Vowels and Consonants. With vowels, the vocal tract is open as the sound moves from your vocal folds and out your mouth, while consonants restrict the flow in order to shape the sound. I have been familiar with vowels and consonants since elementary school, but I was not aware of this distinction, so I was pretty happy that I learnt something so fast.

Lori added that consonants are vowels with vocal restrictions applied to them. At least that was my understanding of what she said. For example; if you start off with the ‘A’ sound ‘ahhhhhhh’, then gently close you lips, it becomes ‘mmmm’. I could not think of an exception to the rule (not that she said it was a rule), and I would be interested in hearing if anybody thinks of one.

All together there are 2 major sound groups in human speech, 45 classes of sounds, and 8 targets to deal with these classes. What is a Target? A target is essentially a mechanical speech technique for dealing with a certain sound group. Non-stutterers do this naturally, it’s built into their motor activity.

We were then introduced to the first target; Stretched Syllable. The Stretched Syllable is essentially stretching each syllable in a word to 2 seconds, which is 10 times the usual 0.2 second syllables. So basically it’s talking in slow motion. This is necessary in order to isolate problem speech patterns and incorporate the new speaking techniques, also it allows the speaker to feel the speech mechanics.

The four rules of the Stretched Syllable target are :
1. Every syllable is stretched to 2 seconds
2. The first stretchable sound is 1 second
3. The remainder of the syllable is 1 second
4. Stop for a breath between syllables

The Stretched Syllable target is important because :
1. It reduces force
2. Provides time to feel the mechanics of speech
3. Provides the opportunity to control what is happening
4. Provides a foundation for the other targets

While practicing with the Stretched Syllable target, I will be monitoring :
1. Duration accuracy
2. Stability of sounds
3. That sounds are being completed

In order to implement this target properly, we are beginning to use our stop watches to measure duration accuracy.

So, how do you stretch a syllable? Well, you simply apply the above rules to a word.

Lets take the word ‘ON’ for example. ‘ON’ is a single word composed of 2 sounds; the ‘O’ and the ‘N’. So :
Rule 1. - 2 seconds for the entire syllable
Rule 2. – 1 second for the first stretchable sound; ‘O’.
Rule 3 – 1 second for the remainder of the syllable; ‘N’.
Rule 4 – Not applicable

Seconds per Sound11
WordON
Seconds per Syllable2
Hear it

Don’t confuse letters with sounds. The above example says the sounds in ‘ON’ are ‘O’ & ‘N’, but really, those are just the letters representing the sounds. I was going to say it’s composed of ‘awhhhhh’ and ‘nnnnnnnnnn’, but I didn’t want to confuse the issue.

What about ‘MY’? it’s the same thing.
Rule 1. - 2 seconds for the entire syllable
Rule 2. – 1 second for the first stretchable sound; ‘M’.
Rule 3 – 1 second for the remainder of the syllable; ‘Y’.
Rule 4 – Not applicable

Seconds per Sound11
WordMY
Seconds per Syllable2
Hear it

How about a 2 syllable word? How about ‘NORMAL’?
Rule 1. – Break up word into syllables (‘NOR’ and ‘MAL’). Stretch each for 2 seconds
‘NOR’ Rule 2. – 1 second for the first stretchable sound; ‘N’.
‘NOR’ Rule 3 – 1 second for the remainder of the syllable; ‘OR’.
‘MAL’ Rule 2. – 1 second for the first stretchable sound; ‘M’.
‘MAL’ Rule 3 – 1 second for the remainder of the syllable; ‘AL’.
Rule 4 – 1 second pause between each syllable.

Seconds per Sound11 11
WordNOR MAL
Seconds per Syllable212
Hear it

Well that’s great isn’t it? Simple rules without exceptions.

Not so fast. There are sounds which should not be stretched, like ‘S’, ‘F’, ‘H’, ‘SH’, ‘CH’, & ‘TH-‘. These are voiceless sounds, or air sounds. Basically, you don’t use your vocal chords when creating these sounds. You CAN stretch them, but if you do, you will run out of air and will not be able to continue. What is ‘Th-‘? This is the ‘TH’ sound without a voice (think), as apposed to the ‘TH’ sound with a voice (the).

There are a few more sounds which cannot be stretched, these include ‘P’, ‘B’, ‘D’, ‘T’, ‘K’, & ‘G’. I believe these sounds are called popping sounds and you can’t stretch them if you wanted to.

So how do you deal with these sounds? You don’t stretch them. Notice in rule 2, it says the first ‘stretchable’ sound is 1 syllable. So the first stretchable sound, may not always be the first.

Let’s look at the word ‘TIME’:
Rule 1. - 2 seconds for the entire syllable
Rule 2. – 1 second for the first stretchable sound; ‘I’.
Rule 3 – 1 second for the remainder of the syllable; ‘ME’.
Rule 4 – Not applicable

Seconds per Sound-11
WordTIME
Seconds per Syllable2
Hear it

PS-If you like my blog, please pass along the URL to anybody you think might also be interested. Thanks.


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

3 Comments:

At Monday, October 17, 2005 10:30:00 PM, Anonymous Vikesh said...

Congrats on your first day John! Interesting stuff to read and glad you're enjoying it.

Vikesh

 
At Tuesday, October 18, 2005 3:29:00 PM, Blogger John MacIntyre said...

Thanks Videsh.

 
At Wednesday, August 29, 2012 8:33:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

how does one complete the syllable? what about defintite completion of final articulatory position?

 

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