Your phone rings, but as you receive the call, a speech block hits you out of the blue!
This has happened to almost all of us who stutter. Sometimes, at the exact moment when we want to speak, we find our words choking and our vocal cords “paralyzed.” Experts refer to these instances when you cannot utter a word as speech blocks.
Stuttering blocks are always unwelcome although not unexpected. In reality, people who have been stuttering for a long time come to fear these blocks. Even if we don’t know why these blocks occur, we know that they are lurking around, waiting to jump at our larynx, when we need to speak the most!
Blocking is a core behavior of stuttering. In the event of silent blocks, the closure is total. They obstruct the flow of speech at one or several locations (tongue, lips, larynx, etc.)
The only way to defeat these blocks is by moving through them. Block corrections are a few simple techniques speech therapists teach to help PWS speak more fluently and easily.
Post-block correction consists of steps you can take to correct your speech after you have experienced a block. Since you have already experienced blocking in several instances, you should begin with post-block correction exercises. These can help you stutter less severely in the long run.
Cancellation is a unique but simple technique that can help you confront your stuttering. It is a post-block correction method that you need to implement immediately after a block.
It should be easier for you to determine what you did wrong and how you can modify it in the near future.
In cancellation, you begin saying a feared word that tends to induce a block. Once you are in the block, assess the way your articulators are acting. Pause, and give yourself a little time to think what might be causing your block. Release the pent up pressure and try to say the word in a different way.
During post-block corrections, you make overcorrections to your “faulty” speech muscle movements.
Here’s a step-by-step guide of completing a cancellation –
- Say the word on which you block. Say the entire word.
- Pause. Understand why you blocked.
- Let your articulators relax completely. Feel your tongue and jaws relax. Breathe deeply and calmly.
- Make a mental note of everything you think you did wrong that may have caused the block.
- Rehearse or mimic how it would feel to make the corrections as you modify the movement and contact of your articulators.
- Repeat the word.
- This time, stretch out the sound on which you had blocked in step (1).
Revisiting a block is never easy. You may block a second or a third time. You may need several tries before you can say the word easily without blocking.
Don’t just focus on saying the word smoothly. Concentrate on the movement of your lips, tongue, jaws, and your breathing while you say the word.
Post-block corrections can give you a new insight into the relationship between muscle coordination and breathing. Post-block corrections teach you how to cancel your stuttering block once it has already occurred.
In-block corrections can help you cancel a stuttering block once it is already occurring. Think of it has a systematic process that will help you overcome the block while you are in the middle of it.
Here’s how in-block correction works –
- When you are in the middle of a block, do not stop.
- Continue to stutter, but slow it down and let the block complete itself.
- Prolong the word. Stretch the sound you are stuttering on.
Doing so will slow the repetition down or change the repetition to a prolongation or smoothen out a tremor. This will help you come out of a stuttering block.
The pull-out technique is helpful for people who stutter severely and encounter multiple blocks a day. Mastering this technique will show you that no one but you are in control of the duration of a speech block.
Holding the stutter long enough will show you what you need to do, to change the course of your stutter. Soon, you should be able to voluntarily release yourself from the block.
In case you are unable to apply the in-block correction technique, you should revisit post-block correction to explore what you need to change to gain control of the stutter.
Several people who stutter can predict the words they will stutter on in their speech. Once you have mastered the post-block and in-block techniques, it is time for you to learn and apply the pre-block correction techniques.
Preparatory Set technique
The preparatory set technique is a stuttering modification technique that will allow you to ease through a block without pausing or stopping.
Follow this exact procedure to effectively use a pre-block correction –
- As you come up to the feared word halt. The brief pause will give you the time to take a deep breath and calm yourself. Make sure that the pause is not long. It should be brief enough to sound normal in an ongoing conversation.
- Feel the tension in your articulators and try to calm them. Feel your tongue lying loosely at the bottom of your mouth, your jaws loose and your lips relaxed.
- Think about what you do that typically creates the block on the particular sound.
- Reflect on the fluency shaping techniques you have learned so far that you can use to avoid stuttering or blocking on the particular word.
- Rehearse how it will feel to say the words in your mind. Think about saying the whole word with deliberation, in an exaggeratedly slow motion.
- As you begin breathing out say the word while applying the corrections.
While saying the word, pay attention to how the word feels rather than how it sounds. Focus on the movement of your tongue, jaws, and lips.
You should concentrate on the feeling of change as you progress through the word.
Managing Your Stuttering Blocks
Make a list of your feared words – words on which you stutter or block repeatedly.
Next, try to apply the post-block corrections to find out how you stutter on them.
Then, apply the in-block correction. Determine the changes necessary to ease your way out of the block and apply these changes during the pre-block corrections.
Continue this entire set of exercises until you can automatically determine which corrections are necessary for every anticipated block.
Remember, practice makes you perfect. It is possible to master all three techniques to overcome speech blocks only if you practice daily.
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