I believe I have a mild to moderate stutter, and in fact that is the evaluation I received from a board certified fluency specialists in 2004. I believe this is the range that my stutter has always been in but at times can be severe. I believe this is the range that by stutter has always been in but at times I can be severe. I believe I am a person who has a lot of emotional and psychological baggage about living with stuttering and that my stutter can be greatly affect by circumstances.
I repeat sound and syllable, usually the beginnings of words, beginnings of sentences, but if I am really struggling, I can repeat a syllable in one word and then when I try to move on to the next word, I get stuck on the first vowel in that next word and it can be gasping for air sound.
I don't think I do much avoidance anymore except for the big one: not talking! I still suffer from not participating in life, in situations, groups that I would like to. But I believe I have largely given up avoidance techniques of my past, substitutions, rearranging of phrases and sentences, going to see people in person rather than using the phone...I say the word "um" a lot but it truly is not an avoidance technique for me. I say it when I am still formulating my thoughts.
I believe what the research suggests about neurological cause for stuttering. I was the sixth child born in a competitive family and I was/am very sensitive but I don't believe those are the causes. My mother tells me that she stuttered when she was very young but out-grew it.
In grade school, though I can't exactly remember what grade, I was evaluated by the school speech therapist and the recommended that I have therapy. My mother told them "NO". and this was the first open discussion of my stuttering. I was totally confused by the fact that my mother was against it because I was desperate for help. But there was no further discussion of it and I believe this is set up a debilitating self-image for me. I want help but it wasn't forthcoming for me and I didn't know how to ask for what I needed. My mother says I stuttered from the beginning of learning to talk but her acknowledgement of that didn't come 'til I was in my 30's, so as a child, the interaction with the school speech therapist was the first time someone noticed my stuttering. The only thing that has changed about my stuttering through the years is that I have some control at times. The nature of my stutters hasn't changed much.
When I was 15 and then again at 25 I had speech therapy. They were similar in that I practiced a lot of sound prolongations and recorded my practicing and played it back to myself. I think I was taught gentle onset and perhaps some breathing techniques at age 25. I was not able to transfer the tools to my daily life. At age 38 I met another SLP who was also a PWS and she really changed my life by working a lot on my attitude and self-acceptance. She also had me do a lot of voluntary stuttering out in the community and o the phone. This helped tremendously towards desensitization. I was also fortunate to have a friend who was willing to come over to my house and do role-playing with me. I also practiced on the phone with her. I would always tell her that I was practicing so that I could be held accountable. Still, though, self-acceptance and living productively with stuttering is a daily challenge for me.
I can't really say that I have a career. I married and re-located two years ago and my greatest fear in making those changes was that I gave up what was a narrow niche job in a narrow niche field! I was a Production Manager for a company that harvested edible seaweed in Maine and my job responsibilities did not include answering the phone or customer service. Having re-located to another state, for the past year and a half I have been working as an assistant to a young woman who is developmentally disabled. I assist her at home and at her volunteer jobs.
Employment and a career is the saddest area of my life related to living with stuttering. I never even set goals for myself or felt that I could choose a career or be cleared about such things. Although I don't believe I fit the true definition of a covert stuttering (because I can't truly hide my stutter), as my speech therapist suggested, I think I have some covert issues. So right now, my goals are to stutter openly without shame and not hide from life or limit my participation because of my stutter. But this is a fine line to walk and I probably will get to a point where I want to try to practice some tools with more discipline. Because it is very hard to overcome the shame and habit of hiding.