I am NOT a person who stutters… I am an SLP. I am the chapter leader for a NSA Stuttering Support Group. In our last meeting, we discussed use of avoidances in conversation. The BIG question that nobody seems to want to talk about is this: should the goal be to NEVER EVER use avoidances? Is a PWS supposed to feel guilty for using avoidances? If a person can change the twang of their voice a bit… and still say what they want to say… and get their message across successfully… should this feel like a success or failure? Is this any different from using prolongations? If a PWS can change inflection (avoidance) vs. change rate/length of vowels (prolongations) and be more successful and natural… should that be considered an avoidance? And do people feel bad about avoiding because they have been told that it is a bad thing? Does it make a difference if you are changing your voice vs. changing actual words? If I ordered a hamburger instead of a cheeseburger because it was easier to say fluently, then the message was altered and would definitely be considered unsuccessful. But what if someone changed the twang of their voice and ordered exactly what they wanted? Is this bad?
ALSO, is avoiding a slippery slope? Once you start avoiding, do you then avoid more and more so that you are never using your true voice? Can there be an acceptable amount of avoiding if you are truly comfortable having some dysfluencies in your speech? Many many older adults who stutter, and feel truly comfortable in stuttering openly and have reported that they have ‘found their voice’, still report that they use avoidance behaviors daily. As an SLP, I have mixed feelings on my response to these questions. I am cautious about having an opinion on this matter… as a supporter of friends who stutter and as a professional.
Who has thoughts about this? I would love to hear responses.
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