Module 2: The Jump:
Answers to some common questions
∑ I have a severe stammer. So if I used The Jump I would end up missing out so many sounds that nobody would ever understand me. Is this technique not suitable for me?
The Jump is easiest to use in situations where your stammering is relatively mild and where you donít block on most of the words. As you say, if you need to jump too frequently, the listener might have difficulty understanding you. So, if your stammer is very severe, there may be some situations in which it simply isnít practicable to use The Jump. You therefore need to experiment in order to see which situations you can successfully use it in. Always use it in the easier speaking situations where the listener has a reasonable chance of understanding what you say. In the situations where using The Jump is likely to result in the listener failing to understand what you say, it may be better to use Orchestral Speech instead (or some other fluency-shaping method). If there is enough time, we recommend you do both... Try The Jump first, and then if the listener hasnít understood, repeat the phrase using a fluency shaping technique. Whatever the case, as long as you use The Jump regularly in at least some speaking situations, the severity of your stammering should start to diminish. Then, as time goes on, the proportion of speaking situations in which you find you can use it successfully will increase.
∑ When I jump over a sound I am blocking on, more often than not I block on the next sound as well, so jumping doesnít seem to help much. Is there anything I can do?
This may be happening because you are failing to let go sufficiently of the sound you are blocking on before attempting the next sound . So, you need to make sure you have completely abandoned all the muscle movements associated with the sound you are blocking on before you then start on the next sound: Make sure you have returned your mouth and lips to a neutral position and also make sure that your vocal folds are open. Itís not necessary to take a new breath, although allowing some breath to pass in or out of your lungs will ensure that your vocal folds are open. More often than not, the sound you re-start on (after jumping over the problem sound) will be a vowel. So, make sure you re-start gently (with a soft onsetórather than with a glottal stop). Indeed, it is good to avoid producing glottal stops following jumps, as these do seem to trigger off more blocks.
Even if you do everything as instructed, it is still possible that you may block again immediately when you attempt to re-start speaking after a jump, especially if your stammering is normally very severe.† If this does happen, just jump again onto the next sound, and the next and the next, if necessary, until you get to the end of the phrase. Then, if necessary, go over the same phrase again using Orchestral Speech or some other fluency shaping technique to help the listener understand it.
∑ I can use The Jump, but I keep forgetting, and find myself already pushing quite a lot before I remember.† What should I do?
As soon as you notice that you have blocked, stop and let go. Of course, it is best if you notice before you start to push through a block and before you produce any secondary symptoms, But you can still successfully use The Jump even after you have started to push. You may, however, need to allow a bit more time to ďlet goĒ before continuing on.
The earlier you notice your blocksóand stop yourself from trying to push through them, the better. However, on the other hand, you donít want to be too quick!. It is important that you do actually allow blocks to occur before you stop and try to jump over them. Jumping over anticipated blocks (i.e. blocks that havenít happened yet) does more harm than good.
People seem to vary quite considerably in how early they become aware that they are blocking. stammerers who experience major disruptions (and who are accustomed to using a lot of force to push through them) are often almost completely unaware of their more minor blocks. In our experience, this lack of awareness of minor blocks appears to be one of the main reasons why some people fail to reap the full benefit of using The Jump. The more mindful you are, the better (and earlier) you will recognise these minor blocks. So, mindfulness training may help here, although it may take some time before such training produces any tangible results. Practicing mindful speaking on a regular basis may bring such benefits more directly.
∑ How much should I practice this technique?
Use The Jump every time you find yourself blocking, except in situations where there are valid reasons not to do so. The main reasons not to use it are situations in which you really need to guarantee that you will be as fluent as possible. Such as: (a) when you need to get an important message across quickly ; and (b) when being disfluent is highly likely to make people annoyed; (c) when speaking into speech recognition software (d) when you have already tried to say something using The Jump and the listener has failed to understand you.† In all of these situations, use Orchestral speech (or some other fluency-shaping technique) instead.
∑ Is it OK to use The Jump together with other speech therapy techniques?
Itís fine to use The Jump alongside fluency-shaping techniques. Indeed, you need to have one or more fluency-shaping techniques as a back-up for the times when using The Jump fails to get the message across. We recommend using Orchestral Speech at such times, but other fluency shaping techniques are fine to use at such times too.
In contrast, itís not OK to use The Jump in conjunction with other Block Modification techniques. In particular, do not use it in conjunction with any of the Van Riper block modification methods (preparatory sets, cancellations, and pullouts), as these are incompatible with key elements of The Jump and will stop it from working. Of course, if you want to use other Block Modification techniques, that is fine. But then, donít use The Jump. We will post an article explaining why The Jump is incompatible with other block modification techniques in the near future.
∑ When Iím blocking in real life, I find myself going into automatic pilot and unable to focus my attention on any technique whatsoever. What can I do?
This is a common problem, especially for stammerers who experience strong emotions when speaking and especially in situations that are highly cognitively demanding (such as when the topic being discussed is complex). Emotional arousal temporarily reduces oneís cognitive capacity and makes it particularly difficult to employ any technique that requires much conscious attention. Discussing complex topics requires a lot of cognitive capacity, leaving little to focus on a technique.† Luckily, because The Jump is an extremely easy technique to use and is relatively cognitively undemanding (essentially it simply involves giving up on the sounds you are having difficulty with) it can be employed in such difficult situations relatively easily. The key is to get enough practice using it in easy situations first, to the point where its use becomes second nature. Then, soon you will find yourself using it automatically, without even having to think about it.
∑ I understand the jump and it works fine, but something inside me stops me from using it.† Why is this?
There may be a number of reasons for this. However, in our experience, inability to employ The Jump is most commonly associated with concern over what sort of an impression one will make on the listener as a result of using the technique. Such concern is not entirely surprising. After all, many techniques used by people who stammer result in speech that sounds artificial, contrived, and sometimes insincere, as though one is putting on an act. Even orchestral speech can sound like that. However, the speech that results from using The Jump actually sounds remarkably genuine.
Because using The Jump involves giving up on sounds that you are blocking on, it may feel like you are speaking in a somewhat careless manner, as though you are not trying hard enough to get the words exactly right. However, in our experience, this is not how it comes over to listeners. Itís also worth bearing in mind that it does not necessarily make a good impression on a listener if you stubbornly insist on continuing to try to say every sound of a word, even after it is already perfectly clear that the listener has already guessed what the word is.
∑ I just tried using The Jump with someone Iíve known for a long time and they looked at me as if to say, ďwhy are you missing out bits of words?Ē Now I find myself unable to use it with that person. Is there any way around this?
If you are having particular difficulty employing The Jump with people you know, but find it easy to employ with people you donít know, then this may reflect a desire to maintain a stable image. This is not unreasonable, after all, some listeners may be unaccepting of change, even when that change is for the better. Whatever the case, it may help to reflect on the possible consequences of a change in oneís image and whether there is anything you can do to help people you know perceive it in a positive way.† It may help, in some cases at least, to disclose the fact that you have just started using a technique to help with your stammer, and may be even to explain a little about what the technique involves and why it is important to you.
∑ When Iím using The Jump, it works really well to start with, but as I continue to speak, it gets† more and more difficult and increasingly I feel like the stammering is just under the surface, and might pop up at any moment. What is going on?
If this happens, it means you are either employing some aspect of The Jump wrongly, or you are approaching it with the wrong motive. If you are using The Jump correctly, and with the correct motive, the feeling of immanent blocks lurking under the surface should get less and less as you continue to speak. But this will only happen if you are happy to allow blocks to occur. In contrast, if you are trying to speak without blocking, then the fear of blocks will grow as you continue to speak, and you will indeed tend to block more as you continue to speak. Remember that the purpose behind The Jump is to enable you to easily get started again after you have blockedóit is not designed to stop blocks occurring in the first place.
In terms of not employing The Jump correctly, the main mistakes people make are
(a) They fail to completely let go of the sound they are blocking on before starting on the next sound. Remember, the way The Jump works is by abandoning our attempts to co-articulate (join up) the problem sound with whatever comes after.
(b) They continue to stall or use some or other avoidance strategy in order to avoid anticipated blocks. Remember, for The Jump to work, youíve got to stop trying to avoid stuttering. Often such avoidance behaviours have been established over many years and have become so second nature to us that we are not consciously aware that we are doing them. Mindfulness while talking can be useful in helping us to recognise and stop such behaviours.
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The online education and therapy programme for people who stammer