Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Transfer-Wk 13,Tues.-Drive through resolution

So far my fluency resolutions have been pretty weak. I’ve missed the first two, namely; “Jan-10 Go a full day without stuttering”, and “Jan-15 Go 2 days in a row without stuttering”. These goals may have been a wee bit optimistic anyway.

Well today was the deadline for the third resolution, namely; “Jan-31 Order something in a drive through”. I really wasn’t looking forward to this, and knew it was coming up. I’ve actually considered doing it every day for the past two weeks. Even earlier today, I considered doing it, but put it off.

By 9:30, I knew that I needed to do it if I was going to have any self respect, so I got my coat on and drove to McDonalds for a McFlurry. I had planned on going for a coffee, but it was getting late, and I wanted to get some sleep.

Well I got there, saw the line, and many avoidance thoughts went through my mind.
The line is too long.
I don’t even want anything.
Perhaps I should get something easier to say than “Oreo McFlurry”.
What if I block? .. Can I get out of the line? .. How pathetic will that be if I do!
I should do this later.
Why bother? After all; I’ve already missed my other resolutions.
Etc, etc, etc, …

Then as I was trying to get in line, a car full of young girls came out of no-where and cut in front of me. Which started up the crap center again; how pathetic will that be if I’m suffering trying to get my order out, and they’re all in the car in front of me watching me make an ass out of myself?

You know … all kinds of fun stuff was going through my head. ;-)

Anyway, I did finally get to the drive through speaker. I stumbled, blocked, word switched, mid-word word switched, mid-syllable word switched, used starter words, and starter sounds. But got my order out, and at least a little bit was using my targets. So that’s good.

I think I should force myself to continue doing this until I am able to use my targets consistently. Actually, perhaps I should make the drive through my standard procedure for ordering stuff … just to keep on top of it.

I will try again tomorrow. … Maybe I should track my weight gain as well. ;-)

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

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Transfer-Wk 12,Wed.-Another Toastmasters Ribbon

My second Best Table Topics ribbon … cool eh?

I stumbled several times at Toastmasters this evening, but each time was able to regain my fluency. To be honest though, my control was less than optimal.

In tonight’s meeting, we were given some literature which included a questionnaire for the VP of Education. The questionnaire basically asked what our expectations and goals were within Toastmasters.

To be honest, my goals at Toastmasters are really just an extension of my goals in speech therapy. I want to be fluent. I want to maintain the skills learned in therapy. I want to be challenged … and public speaking is definitely a challenge for somebody with Persistent Developmental Stuttering.

I would also like to give talks to local businesses about database and software development. Maybe even do some workshops or something.

But that’s really it. I’ve never really thought too much about my expectations and goals within Toastmasters beyond that.

It has occurred to me that combining public speaking with my interest in personal development (great site), and now writing, could easily launch me into a “Motivational Speaker” role. When you combine the fact that I’m publicly challenging, and planning to conquer a seemingly insurmountable obstacle (stuttering); I suppose I might even be easy to market. But, after a 20 minute mental walk down that path, I realize; it’s not for me.

However, one possibly, highly beneficial goal may be to start a Toastmasters Club for IT people in Mississauga. There doesn’t appear to be any in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), but I believe this would be highly advantageous to its members, and might be quite popular.

I mentioned this in my Fluency Resolutions, but after this evening, I think I should start pursuing this immediately. Although, I should start immediately, it may take me a year to get into a position where I can start a club.

In my conversation this evening, it appears as though signing up for more than one speech per month may be pushing club etiquette. So there just isn’t enough time to complete all the speeches I would have to do. I believe a minimum 6 months as a club officer is required … so I would have to become a club officer quickly in order to get the experience. (I’m expecting a baby soon, so not too quickly.)

Volunteering for roles each week is also something I’m doing to get as many speaking opportunities as possible.

Coming back to my Fluency Resolutions, you may notice my stats are no longer on the top of each post. This is due to the self destruction of my laptop a couple weeks ago. I will be starting the stats again soon, but I did lose the stats I had, so I’ll be starting pretty much from scratch.

There was also a bit of a delay in my maintenance last week when I dropped my stop watch. I spent a couple days trying to find somebody who would fix it without sending it away for a week. Somebody actually fixed it while they were looking at it, after they told me there was nothing he could do, and didn’t charge me or tell me it was fixed. So I spent another day searching, before somebody else told me it wasn’t broken!

Now I feel guilty for not thanking the guy who fixed it.

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Transfer-Wk 12,Tues.-Phone transfers delivered

Last night we Canadians exercised our right to elect a new Prime Minister. If you’re not from Canada, let me summarize our choices (as I see them at least) :
  • Liberals – Widely regarded as corrupt.

  • Conservatives – Entire platform seemed to be based on Liberals being in power for too long, and now it’s their turn by default.

  • NDP – Spend spend spend.

  • Bloc Québécois – Anti Canada
Anyway, my elected MP (Member of Parliament) is Colleen Beaumier.

What the heck has this got to do with stuttering? What could this possibly have to do with my therapy?

Well the first paragraph was mostly just venting. ;-)

But the comment about Colleen Beaumier is relevant because when I had my phone number changed a few months ago, I got her old number. At least if you look up C. Beaumier in the phone book, my new phone number is listed. Whether that’s actually her or not is irrelevant since appearing to be has the same effect.

I’m guessing MP’s receive a lot of unsolicited calls from constituents. Based on this, I would assume Ms. Beaumier wisely asked for an unlisted number before the election started. Then I was given her old number after the 2006 phone books hit the printer.

So I’ve been receiving at least one call for her per day for the past 2 weeks.

I’m interpreting this as god/the universe/fate/karma/etc’s way of telling me I need more phone transfers. And if I’m not going to do them myself, they’re going to come to me!

Six months ago I would have called Bell and asked for yet another number, but I’ve decided to prepare for the onslaught of phone calls and treat them as practice for my speech therapy.

Bring it on …

PS-Colleen, please don’t be too controversial though. ;-)

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

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Transfer-Wk 11,Thurs.-Word Switching

What is “Word Switching”?

Unfortunately there is no entry for “word switching” on wikipedia.org to plagiarize in its entirety. But I did find the following in the “Avoidance” section, in the entry for “Stutter”.

“When stuttering, stutterers will often use nonsense syllables or less-appropriate (but easier to say) words to ease into the flow of speech. … “

“As stutterers often resort to word substitution in order to avoid stuttering, some develop an entire vocabulary of easy-to-pronounce words in order to maintain fluent speech—sometimes so well that no one, not even their spouses or friends, know that they have a stutter. Stutterers who successfully use this method are called "covert stutterers" or "closet stutterers". While they do not actually stutter in speech they nevertheless suffer greatly from their speech disorder. The extra effort it takes to scan ahead for feared words or sounds is stressful, and the replacement word is usually not as adequate a choice as the stutterer originally intended. Famously, some stutterers drastically limit their options when dealing with employees at given establishments; only eating cheeseburgers at fast-food restaurants, ordering toppings they do not like on pizzas, or getting a style of haircut they do not want as a by-product of their inability to pronounce certain words. Some stutterers have even changed their own given name because it contains a difficult-to-pronounce sound and frequently leads to embarrassing situations.”

Source : Wikipedia.org

When I started my therapy, I was given a questionnaire about my current stutter. One of the questions asked if I word switched; I replied that I did not word switch. I also maintained this position in conversations about stuttering.

Basically, my position was that I used to word switch, but hadn’t for many years. And why bother since I stutter on everything anyway.

But near the end of my therapy, during my heightened awareness of the events between my lungs and lips; I noticed that I was constantly attempting to word switch! Constantly!

Actually, my word switching was so bad that saying the correct word felt wrong at a gut level.

Not only that; but I later realized that I was word switching in mid-word and even mid-syllable!

Check this out … it’s a recording of one of my phone transfers where I reverted back to my old pattern. Fortunately it only took me 3-4 seconds to recover, versus the pre-therapy probable inability to recover.

Click here to listen

What the heck was that????

What happened at “Thank You”????

That’s not stuttering!

But that is what my speech pattern has become in the past 5-10 years. A whole lot of that mess! That reduces job searches to a series of resume emails, initial phone calls, and no interviews! It’s not a st-st-stutter.

That’s what my entire speech used to be! From picking up the phone and saying ‘Yes?’ (I haven’t been able to say ‘Hello’ for 25 years) till the caller hangs up.

So what the heck was that?

That, my friend, was a very unsuccessful, mid-syllable, word switch.

Let’s break it down:
I started off saying “Thank You”
It was going nowhere, so I switched to “Ok, Thank You”
Since that also failed, I tried “Ah, Ok, Thank You”
That failed, so I reverted back to “Ok, Thank You” and began switching between “Ah…” and “Ok…”

So the final result was something like “Ohhaaaaaooooooaaaaaaooooooaaaaaaaooooaaaaaoooook thank you”

And that was mild compared to what I used to do.

But, it was an incredible relief when I figured it out … it was an epiphany into my problem! I still have a regular stutter; it’s not an early symptom of some upcoming mental illness. And it’s not a newly developed stuttering pattern, that somebody will coin the “MacIntyre Effect”!

Bottom line; if I control my fluency, that thing is history.

Word switching may also explain a problem I started having about 6 years ago, where I would often switch a very important word for another, which usually made no sense in the context. Could it be that I was focusing so much on the difficulty I was having speaking, and not enough on the content, that an unconscious word switch was making my sentence meaningless?

But lets get down to brass tacks; what happened to cause the above mid-syllable word switch? Why did I feel the need to word switch at all? Lets talk targets … what did I do which was inconsistent with my therapy?

Well first off, I was not stretching syllables to a rate where I felt control, that’s obvious. The fact that I couldn’t say “Thank” leads me to believe I may have missed the gentle onset target on the ‘a’ after the silent ‘th’. And there was a possible missed slow change target moving from the ‘th’ to ‘a’.

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

Monday, January 16, 2006

Still alive

Just a note to say that I'm still here.

My Laptop died on me last week at the most inopportune time, and I've been trying to get caught up ever since.

I'll probably post something on word switching Wednesday.


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

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Transfer-Wk 9,Wed.-Video; discussing maintenance

Last stuttered on 01/04/060 days since last stutter
0 times through drive through6 days since missing shaping
1 days since missing review5 structured phone calls made
1 speeches made0 sales calls made
13 conversations initiated 

Today, I thought I'd "save time" by doing a video rather than blasting out a few hundred words. Why is it; the short cuts always leave you wishing you'd just gone the long way? ;-)

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

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Transfer-Wk 9,Tues.-Fluency Resolutions

Last stuttered on 01/03/060 days since last stutter
0 times through drive through5 days since missing shaping
0 days since missing review2 structured phone calls made
1 speeches made0 sales calls made
7 conversations initiated 

Admitting you make New Years Resolutions appears, to me at least, to be highly out of vogue. There are many criticisms, including; nobody keeps their resolutions, why wait for New Years to improve yourself, they just don’t work, etc …

While the annual goal setting may seem passé, I see the change of calendar year as a good point of reference to measure progress. The New Year approaching is also a good reminder to do something about personal weaknesses.

In my humble opinion, many people don’t keep their New Years resolutions for the same reason I can’t seem to maintain my fluency, even after my obviously effective therapy; A total lack of self-discipline.

But you can’t stop trying. I made a resolution 15 years ago, to stop a disgusting, 9 year, chain-smoking habit … it lasted 3 days. It was another failed attempt within a prolonged series. But on January 6th, I tried again, and haven’t had a cigarette since. You’ve got to keep trying till you nail it.

Below are some goals I’ve set for myself with regards to my stuttering. Most will seem pretty lame to any non-stutterer, probably even most stutterers, but I can assure you, they are all beyond my comfort zone. However, by the time this blog is finished, I plan to accomplish things many non-stutterers would find challenging.

Jan-10Go a full day without stuttering
Jan-15Go 2 days in a row without stuttering
Jan-31Order something in a drive through
Feb-15Go 7 days without stuttering
Feb-28Put my phone number on my professional website
Feb-28Start phoning clients at least once a month
Feb-28Start advertising my business (invite new clients to contact me)
Mar-31Start making follow up calls regarding my advertising
Mar-31Make 700 phone transfer
Mar-31Make 100 face-face transfers
Apr-30Make a speech in front of potential clients
Jun-30Earn my Competent Toastmaster (CTM) designation
Oct-01Join a local Toastmasters for IT Professionals. If none exist, start one.
Nov-01Make a serious contribution in International Stuttering Awareness Day. If there are no events; initiate something
Nov-01Go 60 days without stuttering by end of my blog

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

Monday, January 02, 2006

Transfer-Wk 9,Mon.-Structured Transfers

Last stuttered on 01/02/060 days since last stutter
0 times through drive through4 days since missing shaping
0 days since missing review2 structured phone calls made
1 speeches made0 sales calls made
0 conversations initiated 

Today I got back on the ball doing my structured transfers. I decided to do 10 phone calls and ask computer stores and hair stylist places “Are you open today?”.. “Thank You.”.

I figured since it’s the first working day after a weekend statutory holiday, the question is plausibly realistic. Even if answering my call makes the answer self-evident.

Bottom line; I got 2 phone calls done in a half hour.

The first phone call I got stuck on “Today” & “Thank You”. I wasn’t that nervous when I started making the call, but by the third ring, I noticed my hand was shaking. I was actually shocked to notice it, since I didn’t think I was that nervous. The big targets I missed were Reduced Articulatory Pressure (RAP II) and Amplitude Contour (AC). I know I missed my RAP II target since my tongue felt like it had teeth marks in it. I believe I missed AC because I got stuck in mid sentence.

I finally got around to my second call after taking a breather and making a series of unanswered calls. My second call was so bad that I actually hung up midway through it. I haven’t done that for a long time. And I don’t mean a “not since my therapy” long time, I mean it’s been at least a year.

Basically, on my second call, I had trouble with “Are”, but managed to get it out. But with “You”, I couldn’t get past the “Y” … it just dragged on forever. “Are” may have been a missed Stretched Syllable target, but the problem with “You”, I can only assume it was a problem with Slow Change since it happened mid-syllable.

After these 2 calls, I decided to take a break and move to something a little less challenging. I attempted to call 3 people I’ve met through therapy, none answered, but at least I successfully used my targets on their voice mail.

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