Changes in overt stuttering pattern


I am a 1st year graduate student in Speech-Language Pathology and a person who stutters.  For most of my life, I have been a covert stutterer due to a very negative and abusive environment as a child.  However, over the past year or so, I’ve “come out of my stuttering closet” and have been working towards being more overt and accept my stuttering.  Overtly, my stuttering has always been in the form of repetitions and some prolongations and, as a whole, has been pretty mild.  Since beginning graduate school in August and moving across the country, I’ve noticed that my overt stuttering pattern has changed.  Now it’s not just the easy overt repetitions and prolongations.  I have been having a lot more silent postural blocks and have adopted a secondary where head twitches while I’m in a block.  My stuttering has also gotten more severe.  Is there a reason that this is happening?  At first I thought it was due to such a huge life change, but it is still occurring, now with some more of the normal repetitions as well. Is there any research that suggests that the overt stuttering behaviors can change over time?  I’m 19 now so I’ve been stuttering for about 16 years and, overtly, for about 1.


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Changes in overt stuttering pattern — 2 Comments

  1. Tiffani, the character of the stuttered speech can change over time, becoming more or less fluent. We have a system that produces speech that includes how the brain formulates language, how the voice is activated, the way the mouth moves, how and what kind of monitoring is done. The degree and kind of disfluency/fluency depends on how these processes interact. If you are trying not to stutter, you might be adding to the disruption of the system. You have had many changes in your life and while you have allowed yourself to stutter overtly, you might be subconsciously trying to avoid blocks. This does change the dynamics of the system.

  2. Tiffani,

    Wow! I say “wow” because I want to first thank you for sharing your story,and your thoughts related to your past and recent struggles. It takes a brave person to express their suffering to complete strangers, so I thank you!

    To add on to what Barbara said (which was great), stuttering can change on a dime. Now, since you were a covert person who stutters for many years, perhaps what is happening is you are finally coming in contact with your “core” disfluencies. Essentially, the stuttering you were hiding from when you were a covert person who stutters, is coming out because you are no longer hiding it. That might be part of the change. Another part may be just what you were taking about with having life changes. Moving is a mentally (and can be physically) traumatic. Especially when you move further than just out of your home town, but, across the country, like you indicated. Change of any kind is challenging. So that might be influencing your general thoughts about life and thus bleeding into your thoughts about your speech.

    I have question, what thoughts have you had lately about your stuttering? If you could write down your thoughts as they came, what would they be? This might be a nice exercise to try in order to gauge the frequency of certain thoughts and themes that might have developed since moving, starting grad school, and your speech changing. Coming in contact with all of our thoughts (good, bad, neutral and all in between) can be beneficial to decreasing the judgments we hold toward our thoughts. To come in contact with our perceptions without judgment may take some practice, and it might allow you to see some of the potential roots to your recent changes. This is just one perspective.

    Let me say this, I’m very impressed with your honesty. Only being overt for about year, you are very brave. Stuttering overtly might be a different process than covertly because you are taking more overt risks and you are allowing more exposure to yourself. Allowing more risks is also being more honest with yourself, which could be hard because it is this honesty with your speech that might have caused the covert behaviors to begin with. Does that make sense? What I’m trying to say is, congratulations on allowing yourself to be vulnerable to whatever comes your way. You are very brave.

    Please keep asking questions. With more question usually comes more questions, but, what also develops is great conversations.

    With compassion and kindness,