Thursday, October 20, 2005

PFSP-Day 4-Gentle Onset

Last night, as part of our homework, which we receive an ample supply (3 hours per night), we read a paragraph without the stop watch to check our Stretched Syllable timing. I was pretty close, going over on a few, and truncating others.

The stretched syllable started with single syllable words, moving to multiple syllable words, small sentences, paragraphs, reading without a watch, and non-written dialog. Today we even did a 3 minute speech in class. You can’t say too much in 3 minutes with a 2 second syllable, but it was an interesting step in the transfer process.

Speaking of the transfer process, when I did the program in 1993, we first learned and mastered the targets, then started the transfer process with a baptism by fire approach. We would visit the Eaton’s Center walk around to shops and ask questions with our speech pathologist hanging about and listening. Now, the transfer process starts to build with baby steps from the second day, with a homework assignment of calling another student and practicing our targets together. We have since done some sort of transfer activity everyday since Tuesday.

We learnt the third target today; Gentle Onset. This is to prevent and/or deal effectively with blocks.

Basically, when we speak, we force air out of our lungs, through the vocal folds, restricting them in order to make the desired sound. When we block (me anyway), the focal folds close before the air starts to pass through. So rather than closing the vocal folds on the air, we are trying to force the air through the vocal folds … which is not as effective to say the least!

The more we block, the more force we use, causing the folds to squeeze together harder, making us block even worse. This is the exact opposite of what we should be doing, and possibly a good example of how trying not to stutter actually increases our stutter. Personally, blocking has been my biggest problem, and if I never tried to blast the air through, I would never have blocked as bad as I did in my early 20s … and I would probably be better off now.

Anyway, the point of the Gentle Onset target is to start the sound off very slowly at first, then increase the volume. This is equivalent to driving up a ramp, instead of into a wall.

There are 5 steps to the Gentle Onset target :
1. Take in a slow, comfortable, full breath in.
2. Start voicing gently (quietly).
3. Increase loudness gradually.
4. Reach full loudness.
5. Decrease loudness in the same gradual fashion.

If you charted, your vocal volume, you would have a bell curve, if done properly.

Because of the highly objective and testable nature of the Gentle Onset target, we can use mechanical tools to provide us with immediate feedback. So today, we were given a little box with a microphone and a light, when we do the target correctly, the light turns on and stays on as long as the volume is increasing.

However, this target is not as easy as you might expect it to be. In 1993, when I took the program, I remember getting very frustrated with the little box. Today started off well for me, but when I went into practice, I lost the ability to just ‘turn it on’ with every vowel sound, and quickly got frustrated again.

Tonight I have about 7 pages to read into it, and I just hope the box makes it back to the clinic tomorrow. ;-)

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


At Friday, October 21, 2005 5:30:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wish you well with your therapy. I've had a slight stammer for 20 years or so, but as nothing compared to the severity of yours.

At Friday, October 21, 2005 9:52:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Read some your posts. Very good idea writing a blog about your stutter. I had thought of it myself as i also have a stutter. Its only recently that i begun to think about my stutter as it has gotten progressively worst when they say it goes with time. I don't block like you but I used to in school. Its funny because i remember thinking that people never knew i had a stutter. Its only now that i remember two ex-girlfriends mentioning it but when they said it i blocked it out. Now unfortunately or fortunately i dont know, those memories are beginning to come back to me. I think personally its like an abused child who in latter years begins to have flashbacks. I think stutters can experience the same things.
My stutter is gene related in that my father and uncles have/had it but only recently have i noticed this. Never occurred to me before why both of my uncles were bachelors and who lived lonely lives. My father covers it well but stays within his comfort zone whereas i have moved country and jobs to experience more of life. I read your post about family. I have realised that i cannot have kids as i dont want to pass on this gene and let them live a life of torment. Its funny because of all my siblings (5) i am the only one which suffers from a stutter. Thats gets difficult as with everyone starting to marry the differences which could be hidden become now apparent. The fact that i had to turn down being the best man was the really the start when i knew that my life was not going to merrily follow the route of my siblings.
I hope you dont mind my posting this 'short history' but i thought you might get something out of it. I did . Thanks.

At Saturday, October 22, 2005 10:14:00 PM, Blogger John MacIntyre said...

Thanks Guys,

As far as the recent memories go, since starting this blog, I've thought more about this than I ever had before. And my god, I'm remembering a lot of things I forgot as well.

As for school, I know I was made fun of, but I'm relatively unscarred by it. It could be repressed as you say. I do remember that I would go through phases with friends. For a long time I would have tons of friends, the I wouldn't have a single one. This could be in step with the cycle of my stutter, but I'd only be speculating if I said it was.

However, my friendship cycles really stablized as I got into my teens though, unlike my speech, and I still keep in touch with many friends from that time period. I actually just saw one 2 hours ago (25 yrs later). So the earlier relationship may not be related.

I may comment on the genetic thing next weekend, so stay tuned. ;-)

As for your short history, No Problem. Feel free to comment with as much as you want. Just keep in mind that I'm no therapist, and probably know less about stuttering than many of the people who read this blog.

Good luck,


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