My name is Alex. I’m 21 years old and live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I’m currently a university student studying accounting. I began stuttering at the age of three.
As I wrote to John Harrison, Lee Lovett’s program is by far the best practical approach I’ve ever heard of to address chronic stuttering. It definitely contributed significantly to my recovery. As I later wrote to Lee, WSSA is a great organization and your methods obviously work for many. For me, writing (what I couldn’t speak) worked so well for me. Without it, I would likely still be stuttering.
I was a very shy child, and was afraid of interacting with other people. Because of this fear, I hesitated in my speech. This problem was labelled by others as a condition beyond my control, called stuttering.
It wasn’t until around age ten that I began focusing on the problem. I began blaming all my problems on the stutter, including my lack of social success. These feelings gradually led to the development of an all-consuming obsession with eliminating all traces of stuttering from my speech. From the age of 10 until 20, it was the primary focus of my life. At times, I just couldn’t talk. It was on my mind virtually all the time. I worked with almost a dozen speech therapists and coaches who specialized in stuttering from all over the world, convinced my parents to buy a delayed auditory feedback device for me, and spent, at times, over 10 hours per day researching and thinking about the problem. While most of these approaches appeared to reduce my stutter at first, the results never lasted more than a few weeks.
As I grew older, the problem became increasingly severe. Eventually, it reached the point where I was unable to get out a single word without struggling for 30 seconds or more in most situations. I was effectively mute. I felt like I was living a nightmare.
A friend of mine who I met on a stuttering online forum told me about Lee. I began reading his book and was immediately intrigued by his approach. His methods intuitively made sense to me. Starting in January of 2019, I began Skyping Lee nearly weekly for several months.
I really loved Lee’s methods. I spent hours per day reading aloud and saying autosuggestions to myself. This helped cement the idea in my mind that I am perfectly capable of speaking normally and the problem is therefore self-created. I also began using his recommended crutches. I particularly loved his idea to write what I’m trying to say on a notepad while saying it and showing it to the person I’m talking to. Interestingly, as soon as I began writing a word down, I could instantly say it without a hitch. For the situations where I stuttered so severely that I was unable to make a single sound for long periods of time, this was the only way I could communicate.
Eventually, after examining the situations that were most difficult for me, it became clear that my lack of social experience in particular situations was somehow triggering the problem. I knew I could speak fluently, had methods to communicate even if I could not get the words out, but felt very nervous and unsure of myself.
After coming to this realization, I took a break from Skyping Lee; however, I continued saying my autosuggestions, and reading aloud, so that I could dedicate all my free time to putting myself in the social situations I felt I lacked experience in. I began hanging out with my friends from high school more, going on dates, and chatting with classmates in my university classes. I also attended recruiting events for accounting students, applied for accounting internships at many different organizations, and was interviewed by 7 of them. While doing all this, I used Lee’s crutches when needed.
Facing my fears head on was a very stressful process. I felt like I did not know what to say or how to act in these situations, and felt embarrassed by my severe awkwardness. At one point, I went over three months without sleeping longer than 2 hours per night. However, it ended up being more than worth it in the end. I got a job in the accounting department of an international agribusiness, made a whole bunch of new friends, and became much better at interacting with other people.
While this was happening, I felt that the root of the problem was disappearing. Eventually, I found that I needed to write less and less. I also modified Lee’s first crutch, skipping the first letter, in such a way that it worked even better for me. This worked so well that it could instantly get me out of any block at any time.
Once I realized this, it became obvious that there were no longer any factors beyond my control that could cause my speech to freeze up. However, I still felt the need to hesitate at times. Since I now knew that I was hesitating by choice, the reason why became obvious: I did not trust myself to say the word I wanted to say because I feared it would sound weird.
I was eventually able to connect the dots and realized that my entire stuttering problem was caused by subconsciously hesitating in my speech. I usually hesitated because I did not feel confident in what I was saying.
This explains why I struggled in the social situations I had little experience in. I felt I did not have enough experience to know what was appropriate to say, so I held myself back whenever I tried to say something out of fear of embarrassing myself. However, I did not want to admit this to myself, so it felt to me like my words were getting hung up for reasons beyond my control.
This also explains why my stutter decreased as I became more comfortable in these situations. I began trusting myself more and more, causing me to feel less and less of a need to hold my speech back.
After realizing why I was hesitating, I never again felt that my speech was getting hung up for reasons beyond my control. Now, if I ever hesitate to say something, rather than fighting against the hesitations by trying to force the words out, I quickly decide whether or not I truly want to say what I was originally intending on saying and either say it or don’t say it. This is what normal speakers do.
It is now November of 2020, and I’ve been speaking with normal fluency for over 4 months. The relief I feel is indescribable. I feel like I’ve truly woken up from a nightmare. If you want to hear me speak, go here: https://youtu.be/vdmF819NYPw.
I was glad to learn about World Stop Stuttering Association (WSSA), which is the world’s only community of EX-stutterers and those fast-becoming ex-stutterers. It is the perfect community for those who want to stop stuttering. Its programs make Lee’s methods easier to understand and apply, and WSSA is staffed by wise ex-stutterers, from all over the world, who have lots of good advice for PWS, which they share in blogs, forums and weekly emails with tips that help. Also, WSSA’s speech club (SAM) is the world’s only speech club designed to help PWS learn to speak publicly and to help all learn to love to speak in all venues. WSSA is therefore a huge positive breakthrough for stutterers: Lee’s methods have been enhanced and are now going global (https://worldstopstuttering.org/). Indeed, I would like to become a Certified Speech Coach myself, as it is a great way to help others and to continue to improve my own speech.
I’d like to sincerely thank Lee for the book, the methods and the coaching he provided me with. Without his suggestions and guidance, my life would be infinitely less than it is today. As I said, without his “writing method”, I would probably still be stuttering.
So, what’s my advice to the world’s stutterers? It’s this: You don’t need to accept stuttering. You can beat it. Lee’s methods as embodied in WSSA’s program provide a clear path to fluency for most. So, beat it and join the fluent world. You’ll love it!
ALEX, Winnipeg, Canada, December 2020