Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Precision Fluency Shaping Program (PFSP)

The Precision Fluency Shaping Program (PFSP) is a full time, 3 week, intensive speech therapy program. The different classes of speech sounds are introduced, a set of techniques, and which to use for each class of sound is taught. When I learn the techniques, I will start speaking at 2 seconds per syllable to integrate the targets, then slowly get faster in measured intervals (2 seconds, 1 second, half second, slow-normal). By the end of the program; I will be speaking in a slow voice using the appropriate targets when necessary.

Again, I want to point out that I AM NOT A SPEECH THERAPIST and am not teaching anything in this blog. All information presented is based on my understanding, limited understanding, and/or possible misunderstanding of the subject. Please do your own research.

This may shock some people, but I have already gone through the program in 1993. Now you may ask; why take it again since it obviously did not work? Well that’s a good question albeit a loaded one. First of all it did work … sort of, when I finished the program in March of 1993, I came out knowing my targets, and able to speak with controlled fluency.

What is controlled fluency? Controlled fluency is using you controlled speech techniques to speak without stuttering. You are always conscious about the way you speak and do not use your speech motor skill.

At the other end of the spectrum is spontaneous fluency. Spontaneous fluency is when you speak fluently without thinking about it. This is how the rest of the world speaks. It’s a motor skill, like maintaining your balance.

Here is the problem; not only was I able to speak with controlled fluency but I was also spontaneously fluent. The program was too successful! So at the end of the day, I was left with a crutch (my targets), which I didn’t need.

Now there is a cost to using and maintaining controlled speech. The costs are; getting up early to practice every morning for the rest of your life, and speaking slower than you would normally speak with a tonality, which seems dull and drab to your listeners. Some listeners find this annoying and will point it out to you.

What invariably happened with me, is that I would use my controlled speech until I got a couple sneers, either by themselves or with comments like ‘Why are you speaking like that?’. I would quickly revert back to my spontaneous fluency, which was working like a charm thanks to the program. ‘Just for now’ I’d tell myself.

Then eventually I would be extremely tired and convince myself that I could squeeze my practice in even if I woke up later. But when I got up, I couldn’t fit it in … but it’s just one day … any body who has ever stopped going to the gym can probably figure out the rest.

Ultimately the spontaneous fluency came to an end, and when I grabbed for my trusty targets, they were gone. And when I went to practice them again, I wasn’t practicing them properly anymore.

So the program did not fail me the first time, it was me that failed the program. I take full responsibility for it. I had controlled fluency when I left, but was seduced by the delusion of spontaneous fluency. Exactly what my therapist warned me about.

One thing I plan to do differently this time is to practice adding emotion to my speech on top of my regular practice. The one big problem I had last time transferring my new skills into the real world was the monotonous tonality problem. I was actually considering hiring a voice coach to assist me with that, but thought I should ask my therapist first. She told me not to … I’m glad I asked.

I’ve heard that fluency should not be my goal. I disagree, while spontaneous fluency is not my goal, controlled fluency is. Quantifiable goals include; putting my phone number on my website, demonstrating a software product in front of a large group of people, and joining Toast Masters, I’m going to a meeting Wednesday. I would love to end this blog with a video of me doing a demo in front of a large audience.

My therapy is a huge investment of time, money, lost income, and effort. It will be an up hill climb for the rest of my life. I’ve made the commitment to control my problem, and am sure of its eventual success.

Wish me luck.

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


At Sunday, October 28, 2007 11:42:00 AM, Anonymous Pat said...

Hello, Having pursued that program twice, how are you feeling about your current fluency level now?

At Wednesday, January 11, 2012 10:11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


It is january 2012, may I ask if you are still using the pfsp speech targets? did you go back to Hollins for more help? thanks



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