Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Disclaimer: Not meant as advice, please find ...

I’ve struggled with the wording of this post for hours, and I’m still not happy with it. I’ve even struggled with whether or not I should even post it. But I do feel it’s important for me to say this, and I just hope my sincerity is reflected in my words.

Just before beginning therapy, I told Lori, my speech therapist, I had started a blog on my therapy. I told her I intended to update it throughout my therapy and for a year after my therapy ended.

I wasn’t really sure what they would say. Is this proprietary information? Would there be privacy concerns? Do I need permission for this? Will they refuse me access into the course? Could I get sued for doing something like this?

Briefly, I considered not even telling them. But I’m not a deceitful person, and although many may feel that would not be deceitful, I know it would have gnawed at my conscience. So I decided to tell them, letting the chips fall where they may.

To my surprise, Dr Kroll, who runs the Stuttering Centre, and Lori were both very supportive of it. Lori seemed genuinely thrilled to hear that I would be blogging about my experience, and Dr. Kroll seemed enthusiastic about my enthusiasm!

However, after a couple days in my therapy, a concern was cautiously expressed about the level of detail on my blog. The concern was; people might attempt to learn fluency shaping from my blog rather than a qualified Speech Language Pathologist. I hadn’t actually considered that, but I also didn’t want to lose the planned posts throughout my therapy, which would be the main source of the value to my blog. So I kept the detailed posts, and appended a disclaimer in the footer of each posting. Not meant as advice, please find a qualified therapist if you are interested in similar therapy.

Also, I want to point out; I was not “forced”, “coerced”, “told”, “persuaded”, or even “asked” to do anything; it was merely pointed out as a potential pitfall. The disclaimer was my idea.

Well I’ve become aware of more than one person attempting to learn fluency shaping from my blog. This bothers me a lot as I feel I may be doing everybody a great disservice, rather than adding the value initially intended.

Now I can appreciate the determination, and I do realize the costs associated with fluency shaping programs is a major investment, which is a stretch to most, and completely out of reach to others. But I really don’t think this is the kind of thing that should be attempted without a qualified therapist. I really don’t.

There are probably plenty of reasons for this which I’m not even aware of, but I do have an example from my own experience. As mentioned before, I took the program in 1993. I didn’t transfer the process successfully, my practice quickly fell off, and soon my post-therapy spontaneous fluency disappeared. When I attempted to re-learn it on my own, I basically half implemented the targets, resulting in a distorted speech pattern and because my therapist wasn’t there I did not receive the necessary corrective feedback.

Essentially … let me be frank … my speech pattern made me sound like a retard!

I apologize for the lack of political correctness, but I really do feel that I sounded like somebody lacking the mentally dexterity to safely use a fork. Especially on the phone.

I worry that a failed attempt to learn fluency shaping from this blog will provide the same results. Leaving the stutterer even worse off, trying to return to the old pattern.

There are just so many things to remember! Our brains just cannot handle it … seriously … supposedly, the human brain has a working memory capacity of 7±2 synchronous items. But in fluency shaping you have :
  • Syllable breakdown for each word
  • Sound class breakdown for each syllable
  • Target breakdown for each sound class
  • Targets and tactics for linking each sound
  • Plus thinking about what you are going to say
You just don’t have enough registers to process more than 7±2 thoughts at once. You will miss things for the first little while. Without a therapist correcting you until it becomes internalized; not only will you not know what you missed, but you’ll never know you missed it.

Also, from what I can gather, the clinic I went to could make a lot more money and help more people by publishing a self-help course for $100. So if learning this on your own were possible, I believe they would already be doing it … and better than I could. I don’t think they are trying to stay in business by doing it this way.

Coming back to the money, personally I feel it’s like education; if you know what your goals are and are willing to take full advantage of it by putting in the work, it will pay dividends. The $15,000 I borrowed to go to programming college while living off of unemployment and credit cards has paid for itself at least once every year since graduating.

So in a nut shell, a large investment in a course can be the best investment you make … but only if you work at it, and put in the full effort required to reap the benefits of the course. There were other students in my programming course who actually cheated to graduate … they thought they were paying for a diploma.

Anyway, please don't try to learn PFSP from my blog, I'm really not qualified to be teaching anybody. But I do hope you find enough information to make an educated decision whether or not pursuing therapy by a qualified SLP is right for you.

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


At Thursday, April 13, 2006 12:33:00 AM, Blogger Rob said...


Great posting! I could not agree with you more that you cannot learn fluency shaping through a blog and that the money spent on a fluency shaping program CAN be an investment (assuming you commit yourself to the program). I routinely spend $2K per year on my Refresher expenses, but the difference it makes in my fluency makes a HUGE (much more than $2K per year) difference in the salary that I can command in the workforce. That does not even address the "priceless" quality of life.

BTW, congrats on getting published in the Demosthenes Society newsletter!

At Thursday, April 13, 2006 1:00:00 AM, Blogger John MacIntyre said...

Hi Rob,

The ROI on almost any career related skill is obscenely fantasitic, isn't it?

congrats on getting published in the Demosthenes Society newsletter!

Thanks, but it really isn't that big of a deal ... I think it's very difficult for them to find content.


At Thursday, April 13, 2006 5:20:00 AM, Blogger Tom said...

Sorry John perhaps of what i said earlier really botherd you. I did study it and try out a little, but Ive never treated it as a substitute of the actual fluency shaping program. Because i did not know much about the program and i dont wanna spend 3000 dollars, and just get told to relax and speak slowly,(you know what i mean ;) ). And your blog has provided an adequate coverage of what the program is about, which is really helpful to my decision so thanks alot.

At Thursday, April 13, 2006 5:23:00 AM, Blogger Tom said...

and yes i will go and try out the fluency shaping program. Since my 2nd training takes place in fort lee, virginia, which is 100 miles from the city where the program takes place. Even though it will cost 2 month of my salary, but if it works, it's worth a million dollars, but if it doesnt work, then ill tell others about it.


At Thursday, April 13, 2006 10:33:00 AM, Blogger John MacIntyre said...

Hi Tom,

perhaps of what i said earlier really botherd you.

It did bother me, but only in the way that I might be contributing to making your problems worse. No worries.

i dont wanna spend 3000 dollars

I can relate to that. ;)

i will go and try out the fluency shaping program

I'm glad you are looking into it, but don't go unless you are willing and able to put in the required practice. I don't know what the practice is like in the Virginia program, but it's probably comparable to what I've described in my blog ... which is extensive.

but if it doesnt work, then ill tell others about it

Definitely. You should say so either way. Please let me know what happens.

Also, if you write something in a constructive way (a blog or just a one-off letter), let me know, maybe we can post it here.

Oh by the way; I hope you use your time in the millitary to persue your interests in medicine and/or pharma.

Good luck.


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