Conquering stuttering a "life-changer"

What we discover on the course is that no-one else really cares, but we do. It's like someone's got a mole on their back and they're worried about wearing clothes that reveal it, but no-one else really cares.

Stuttering was just the tip of the iceberg for Paula Jack.
With it came fear, shame, embarrassment, anger and guilt.
"It's like a possum getting stuck in the middle of a road when he sees the headlights of an oncoming vehicle and freezes," the registered nurse and Kaikohe resident said.
"Freezing is just the blocking, you can't get the words out and your fear is really high."

Getting her own name out was a big challenge and Jack said 99 per cent of stutterers have the same problem.
She signed up for the McGuire Programme 10 years ago and says it changed her life.
"McGuire deals with the whole person not just the stuttering.
"You get taught about what you're thinking, what your thought processes are at the time, your psyche."

But 47-year-old Jack said the programme is hard work and participants have to enter it with a "war-like mentality".
The first thing they're told to do is stutter on purpose.
Then they're taught breathing exercises and encouraged to resist the urge to hurry.
"What we discover on the course is that no-one else really cares, but we do. It's like someone's got a mole on their back and they're worried about wearing clothes that reveal it, but no-one else really cares."

Jack said there are two types of stutterers - overts and coverts. Overts are characterised by repetitions, prolongations and blocks and their stuttering is more obvious. Hiding, avoiding certain words, sounds and situations is the trademark of a covert stutterer. Some coverts get so good you don't even realise they're stutterers, Jack said.

"I spent the majority of my life avoiding certain words like the plague. If I had a major block I would then feel really stink afterwards. I had a total lack of confidence."
Jack thinks stutterers tend to be shy sensitive people. "I had a very chatty sister, I found it difficult to get a word in. She was a very confident little girl and I was very shy."

From article by Sarah Harris, Northern News.