Archive for March, 2009

The residue of stuttering pseudoscience continues to thrive…

March 31st, 2009 4 comments

I ran across an interesting blogpost by a ’40-something professor’ that totally pins the pseudoscience on (Wendell) Johnsonian (diagnosogenic) stuttering theory and pediatric stuttering treatment.  (i.e., just ignore it because it’ll go away on it’s own)  Amazing how a non-SLP-professional can easily point out the flaws of our field…yet our field continues to chug merrily along under the guise of ‘success’.

In essence, the source article talks about how ignoring a behavior (such as stuttering) is a great way to treat the behavior (such as stuttering).  After all, it works some 80% of the time, right? And if they’re still stuttering around age 6, then you can do something about it then.  *smacks forehead* The field of SLP has largely supported this tripe for decades, even though we’ve had data for over 10 years that clearly states differently (Yairi et al., 1996).

The area of stuttering is devoid of true science.  Sometimes I wonder why I even bother…

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Stuttering finally used to help successfully impregnate a female

Stuttering finally used to help successfully impregnate a female.  I believe the post’s title, alone, is sufficient.

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Tax dollars used to fund cosmetic speech/voice treatment?

March 28th, 2009 4 comments

I don’t know why I find this interesting, or why my Canadian peoples didn’t fill me in on this story *ahem*… but apparently there’s a Canadian politician who spent some $4,500 (US) dollars for what sounds like speech/voice/diction/elocution training.  So she could learn to sound “less shrill”.  (Hillary should have followed suit; Ha! suit… pant-suit.)  In any event, stuttering enters the scene when a person who stutters stutterer posts that he’s considering running for office such that the nation could pay for his treatment as well.

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Forget the genetic research, acting classes can cure stuttering

March 26th, 2009 8 comments

Not too much of interest recently on the stuttering front, but Tom posted a pretty nifty article abstract (which I can’t seem to find yet) regarding the ‘dopamine transporter gene’ and the ‘dopamine D(2) receptor gene’ relative to stuttering.  In essence, mutations to the ‘dopamine receptor gene’ seems to be associated with an increased risk for stuttering.  What I think they’ll end up finding is that there are any number of genetic paths toward stuttered speech; and since there is no 1 clear path–it’s confusing our researchers.  We’ve yet to figure out that there are any number of genetic conditions that will result in the symptoms of stuttering.  So get back to me in 15 years–feel free to taunt me if I’m wrong…

And there’s been quite a lot of online chatter about actress Emily Blunt and her stuttering experience.  To summarize, she stuttered as a child, and still does (although to a smaller extent) today.  (I’m pretty confident that there are at least 2 well controlled sub-perceptual moments of stuttering in the interview.) She credits her (incomplete) recovery from stuttering to a teacher that suggested she speak in a novel accent, and then later with acting classes.  (If you stutter or are an SLP, you’re likely giggling over the novel accent suggestion; almost as good as my uncle telling me to substitute words when I was a kid.)  Now don’t  get me wrong–it is not my intention (at all) to somehow denigrate her experience or her perspective.   But I do have the following comments:  (1) How sad is it for the field of SLP that totally unrelated disciplines may have equal power over the pathology? When we hear accounts such as this, I honestly wonder just how far we are from the witch-doctors.  Let’s go kill some chickens; maybe that’ll work this time.  (2) She talks about how she “changed the way her mind worked” (or something to that extent) and implied that this is a tool that she used to largely overcome the pathology.  Between you, me and the rest of the internet, I bet she’s onto something.  (Although I’m confident that mainstream SLP would rather not acknowledge as such.)  The tough thing is–I can’t define it either.  I think I’ve experienced (or felt) something that might be similar–and equally difficult to express.  For limited time periods (and w/ effort), I can force my mind to ‘feel’ different, and that seems to result in a significant decrease in overt stuttering.  Almost like a sense of being invulnterable to a stuttering moment.  Wondering if anyone out there has experienced the same sensation.  Discuss.  I know the Salmelin et al ’98 article (if I recall correctly) suggests that when a stuttered-neuro-activation pattern moves toward a fluent-activation-pattern, we tend to stutter *more*…so I’m just befuddled…  (3) Plenty of stuttering is caused by anxiety inferences abound, per Emily…but whatever, it’s par for the course.

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Stuttering research that is only partially flawed…

March 24th, 2009 9 comments

So I ran across this article today, which represents stuttering research that is only partially flawed.  In essence, the authors (*ahem*) document that various types of real-time and delayed visual feedback enhances perceived fluency in those who stutter. (In other words, a mirror and delayed visual feedback reduces overt stuttering frequency.)  The results are quite robust, with a large effect size–but due to the small sample, no differences between a mirror and delayed visual feedback could be revealed.  (I suspect that a larger sample would have done the trick.)  The primary flaw of this study can be found in nearly all the others; the measurement and quantification of “stuttering” is inherently flawed…

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Stuttering on the Web: Incipient Stuttering & Pastoral Feedback

March 24th, 2009 7 comments

Really interesting stuttering day on the intewebs…  I ran across a post by a mom who’s son appears to have incipient-stage stuttering, and she’s wondering what to do about it.  Not necessarily noteworthy, as we know that approximately 5% of kids will show stuttering-like dysfluencies at some point in their development–but I find the “in the moment” aspect of life really captivating. She further reflects on how important communication is in her next post, so clearly this parent is beginning to get it…

I also ran across the blog of a youth paster who had to give a sermon in front of church.  Someone in the congreation felt “led” to offer up a harsh critique, where a potential cause of stuttering was mentioned.  (If you would just slow down, you wouldn’t stutter!…or something to that extent.)  If you’re a person who stutters stuttterer, you’re probably laughing right now!  Yes, thank you for your input; gee, I would have never guessed; no, I have never tried that before; yes, you are a genius, and smarter than all of stutterers for the past 4,000 or so years…  Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule and solving this little speech thing that we’ve got going on…

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Leys vs Google; vs Person-First Language

Leys is waging his campaign vs. Google, and I am seriously considering waging a campaign against Person-First Language. reader Ralph commented on why I strike out person who stutters and replace it with “stutterer” in my posts.  He makes the very valid point that I might be offending some of my own who may not see things my way or who don’t know why I do it.  I certainly don’t want to offend my fellow people who stutter stutterers, but I would like to drive home the point that Person-First Language (PFL) may not be in our best interests either…

In essence, PFL attempts to use a crafty semantic ploy to minimize the condition and maximize the person. First and foremost, I am a person, and I also happen to stutter.  Ok, I get that.  And that makes a certain amount of intuitive sense.  Fine, well and dandy…

But when I was in college, I learned to have a great appreciation for those who think outside the box–or beyond the current paradigm of the time.  (Regardless of if I agreed w/ their point or not.)  This moment of zen hit me when listening to Gloria Steinem of all people.  Someone asked/told her how women firefighters would be inferior to men; and her response was something like, ‘I’d actually prefer a women to drag me out by my hair so I could breath cleaner air; the man would would pick me up over his shoulder where the smoke concentration is higher.’  Now–whether or not this makes sense to you is beside the point; my point is that she rejected the premise of the question and the thinking of the time.  I was introduced to Malcom X sometime later, where he shares the same genius.  If we set the black nationalism aspects aside, Malcom has a clear understanding of the flaws in his present paradigm which can only be realized once one thinks beyond (or outside) of the thinking of the day.  This vid is a perfect example; Malcom rejects the validity of the question, and the interviewer is utterly clueless on how to handle it.  (Watch the first minute or two of the video re: his last name…)

So let’s look at PFL again.  The whole purpose of PFL relative to stuttering is to maximize the person, minimize the stuttering.  This does a couple things…First, I would suggest it tends to enable the iceberg; it may help enable denial.  At the very least, it does not foster the concept of holistic desensitization.  Second, PFL inherently assumes that ‘stuttering’ is bad.  There is no PFL for positive attributes… Person who is smart; Woman who is hot.  These semantic monikers do not exist.  Therefore, the use of PFL relative to stuttering only reinforces that stuttering is a negative attribute or characteristic of the person.  Sure we can try to use semantic games to minimize it, but it’s still negative.

Now, I want you to think outside of the box for a moment.  What if we rejected the notion that stuttering is a bad thing?  Sure society won’t agree, but let’s throw them out too.  What do I (or we) think?  (That’s the importance, as we first and foremost live with ourselves!)  Granted, this is easier said than done; easier hypothesized than enacted.  But if we empower ourselves to think beyond the current cultural paradigm, to wholly reject the unfounded negative stuttering prejudice and stereotype, then we’re left with a personal characteristic that is what we make of it.

So what are we going to make of it?  And I’ve been reading the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Stutterers, and it’s making way too much sense to me at the moment.  We may not have the liberty to be fluent speakers, but we certainly have the freedom to choose how we respond to stuttering (and how society reacts to stuttering) in our lives; does stuttering control us and our destiny, or do we control our own?

So I reject the use of PFL, at least in my own life.  It would be disingenuous to suggest that stuttering hasn’t somehow directly or indirectly impacted every significant facet of my life.  And while it has been tough at times, stuttering has turned out to be a net positive in my life.  And it has turned out to be a net positive in my own life because I have chosen to make it so.  I also reject the notion that stuttering is bad, ugly, wrong, optional, or a result of a personal character flaw.  This gives me the freedom to reject the cultural values as they relate to stuttering (in which we will lose every time) and re-write my (our) own rules and values relative to stuttering, life and living.  (You cannot hate the roots of the tree, if you click on the above link.)  But rejecting PFL requires that one step outside of the current paradigm, and reassess your reality from the outside in.  Reject the rules of life that have been bought and sold by your psyche and start writing your own.  Therein lies the rub…at least for me; it hasnt been an easy road, and I don’t necessarily wish it on others, but this is where I found my peace and feedom.

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Our Time Theatre Company brings out the stars

March 20th, 2009 3 comments

I’m a big fan of the Our Time Theatre Company, and while I have no desire to life or work anywhere near NYC–I wish I have the opportunity to attend an Annual Benefit Gala. It’s such out of the box thinking that totally combats the societal- and self-imposed (imaginary) stuttering-related limitations.  And I’m not sure how Taro does it, but he get support from some legitimate A-list actors…which helps restore my faith in humanity. This year, Maggie Gyllenhaal and a lot of other quality actors (and I expect quality people) will be in attendance. My wife like’s Maggie, and I think her brother Jake seems cool–so I might pull out our copy of Donnie Darko for tonight’s entertainment.

For a complete run down of all the who’s who that will be in attendance, this is a good / quick read.

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The use of verbal reaction times in stuttering research: not so bogus?

March 19th, 2009 4 comments

I’ve always laughed my head off when I see stuttering “researchers” use verbal (i.e., vocal) reaction times to infer linguistic or neurophysiological functioning in people who stutter stutterers.  I mean, think about it–is it delayed neuro-processing power, or simply the fact that people who stutter stutterers are actually stuttering during the study!  In any event, this study seems to suggest that the verbal reaction times of stutterers (while slower) seem to follow the same patterns of fluent controls. This leads the researchers to suggest that delays in verbal reaction times in stutterers aren’t associated w/ linguistic processing, but rather some (other) neuro-mechanism.  Other reseachers may not like these data…

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Kids w/ artic disorders have pretty high comorbidity w/ other behavioral issues

Not directly stuttering, but…  Kids w/ artic disorders have pretty high comorbidity w/ other behavioral issues.  Now, there seems to be a pretty high likelihood that there would be some internal validity issues relative to diagnosing a kid w/ artic errors as well as being a kid who stutters stutterer.  Simply put, poor SLPs confuse stuttering ‘secondaries’ as functional artic errors or disorders.  So these ‘artic’ errors oft dissolve with the consistent use of volitional stuttering… but I digress.  In any event, looks like an interesting read.  (And yes, it’s entirely possible to both stutter and have artic errors; I’m just sayin’..)

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