I remember myself being a stuttering college student sitting in the public library wading through thick books about stuttering.
And they all had something to say on this subject. Each and every book on stuttering had a substantial part of it dedicated to this. At times, it was a third of a book and sometimes half a book. I even found the whole books on this single topic. So, the topic was…
You guessed it! The causes of stuttering.
But those books didn't have a simple answer to my simple question - what the heck should I do with this?
Watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7USJ4hGZ7c
There's usually a perception that if you know the cause of something, then you got it. You know how to stop it.
And, oftentimes it does work this way. For example, you’ve got a bank account, but there's a problem. You notice that your bank account is debited every day for $100 without your will and credited the next day for the same amount. And, you have nothing to do with that but you see that it just happens somehow. Let's say it's your neighbor who hacked your account and is just kidding around with you. Once you find that out, you know the cause of it so you stop it. You eliminate the cause, and you don't have the problem anymore. Let's call it a "simple sequence.”
In some cases, it's not so straightforward.
A mum goes to a travel agency and takes her daughter with her. And, her kid is tired, she is also hungry and she just doesn’t know what to do there. So, the travel agent gives her a cookie. Then after a while, the girl asks for another cookie. Mum says, “Come on, we’re going to have lunch soon.” The girl starts moaning and urging. Mum says, “No” and after going back and forth, the girl begins to cry. Mum gets irritated and angry, the girl can no longer control her emotions and she breaks into hysterics. And well, what can a loving parent do? Mum grabs that other cookie, that reason for the hysterics - the girl is crying because of the cookie, right? And she gives it to her daughter, but the cookie cannot stop it now. The Cookie is the direct cause of the hysterics that we see. But the real cause is a combination of factors, she’s tired, she’s hungry, and maybe they have issues in their relations. Maybe it’s not so crystal clear there.
Another example is a revolution. There are always economic, political, and social fundamental causes for a significant change in the society. But, there's always also a trigger, like the cookie in the mum and daughter’s example. The trigger here could be a claim for some right or freedom or some violence from the government that we see as the direct cause or reason.
Let's call these examples - a revolution and mum and daughter cookie case - a "compound sequence."
In these cases, there's not just one single cause. Instead, we have several fundamental causes that are deep inside. What we see on the surface is usually just a trigger.
Stuttering is also a compound sequence. We’ve got several causes that overlap, twist and bend together. Heredity that makes us predisposed to speech impediments, neurological issues, emotional environment, and usually there's a trigger that we take as a reason why it began.
How did it start? Well, let me think. After watching that movie? Maybe after speaking at that party? Oh, when that dog frightened him! So we eliminate everything - no more of that movie, no dog, no party. But, stuttering stays the same.
So unlike that example with your neighbor playing with your bank account, where we eliminate the neighbor and it eliminates the problem. Here, in all these cases - daughter and the cookie, revolution and stuttering - we eliminate the direct cause but first, we have other fundamental causes, and second, it develops and grows into something bigger, into something new. It starts living its own life.
Can we prevent it? I believe yes, and I have a separate post about stuttering in toddlers and how parents can help.
What if we already got here? What shall we do? It’s not very efficient to try to unwind our way to this point and go backwards. The causes triggered a new substance. Now we need to deal with it. There’s no coming back, we need to go forward.
My strong belief is that the road to fluency is not through trying to combat the causes of stuttering. It's through building from scratch a new automated speaking pattern that is free from stuttering.
If you want to learn more about it I invite you to discover 3 massive mistakes that keep people who stutter away from fluency or go straight to my Improve Program where I show you exactly how you can eliminate speech impediments.