Above is a video created by Pamela Mertz, a person who stutters and the host of the website, www.stutterrockstar.com/. In this video, she articulately describes and provides examples of voluntary stuttering (stuttering on purpose).

There are three main rationales for using voluntary stuttering.

1. To desensitize, or get used to, a moment of disfluency.
When a person stutters, they often have an immediate and sometimes negative reaction to the moment of disfluency. This reaction may manifest as eye blinks, head nods, tension in the lips, tongue or cheeks, lip smacking, irregular breathing etc. Voluntary stuttering can help a person work towards reducing that reaction and tension, leaving a more comfortable form of stuttering. A person may also choose to purposefully use “hard” stuttering to reduce their reaction to moments of tense disfluency.

2. To practice a more forward moving form of stuttering. A person who stutters can practice “forward moving” stuttering in a number of different ways. They can use easy repetitions (i.e. My na-na-name is Brooke) or easy prolongations (i.e. Mmmmmmy name is Brooke). The important thing is that the person is identifying that certain modifications can be made in the timing or tension of their speech mechanism that may help them stutter more comfortably.

3. To advertise yourself as a person who stutters. Often a person who stutters may choose to voluntary stutter when they are introducing themselves to a new person or when speaking in front of a group. Voluntary stuttering is a way of getting stuttering out in the open and out of the way, so that the person can concentrate on what they are saying rather than worrying about if, when, and how they are going to stutter.

One thing that voluntary stuttering does not do:

1. Make your stuttering worse!
This is the number one thing parents and children worry about and it is an understandable concern. Attempts at voluntary stuttering may initially turn into real disfluencies, but this will not impede someone’s overall progress. However, as with any stuttering “tool”, voluntary stuttering may not be for everyone and one should experiment with this tool first in an environment that they feel supported and comfortable.

Take the voluntary stuttering challenge! Voluntary stutter when:

1. ordering food at a fast food restaurant
2. asking for directions at a gas station
3. asking/answering a question in class
4. answering the phone
5. talking with friends in the cafeteria
6. in dinner conversation with the family
7. asking a stranger what stop is next on the metro/subway
8. telling your parents about your day at school/work
9. asking your teacher/boss a question
10. telling the host/hostess your name and how many people are in your party

Share your reactions to your own voluntary stuttering challenges!