Archive for May, 2009

The empowerment of young online stutterers

I’m continually amazed when I read online entries (written by stuttering kids and teens).  It’s so great to see how far the self-help movement has come over the past 30 years.  Thanks John...

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The Case of the Stuttering Lecturer

Stumbled across a great post by Grant Meredith regarding living with stuttering as (what I assume to be) a professor.  My experiences seem to mirror Grant‘s quite well.  Yet more evidence that stuttering and effective communication are not on the same spectrum.

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More on Darren Sproles, (stuttering) rock star

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Ravings of a lunatic: Tactile speech feedback reduces stuttered speaking behaviors

One of my personal qualities, for better or worse, is an ability to see reality from a unique perspective.  (Or–a disability to see reality from the commonly accepted perspective.)  For about 10 years, I’ve known that feeling my thyroid cartilage vibrate while speaking helped reduce moments of overt stuttered speaking behaviors.  (In other words, feel your throat vibrate with your fingers while speaking…)  Some of my profs in school thought it was a dumb idea, but I knew it worked for me.  So when I consulted in our clinic, I would toss it out to some clients and see if it helped them.  It would.  So I did a small study on it, and found that it reduces stuttered speaking behaviors by about 72%.  Kind of a neat party-trick, but it can come in handy when reading credit card numbers or a name/address while on the telephone…

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Bo Jackson knows commencement at Auburn

This is a great YouTube vid of Bo Jackson giving the commencement address at his alma matter–Auburn.  What I like is that he directly talks about his stuttered speech, what he’s learned from it, and how it’s made him a better person.

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Stuttering Research: A study of buzzwords

Saw that the Australian group published yet-another paper on their treatment approach.  And I still have mixed feelings…  They have toned down their rhetoric quite a bit, but I’m still not convinced that their techniques are any better than the rest of the worlds.  (The last Camperdown study that I read, if I recall correctly, was with a sample size of 3; even the paper admits that only 1 of the 3 had marginal ‘success’.)  Like Tom, I am fully prepared to read a study that directly compares treatment outcomes between the Lidcombe Program and other forms of pediatric stuttering treatment.  When 80% of kids spontaneously recover, regardless of treatment, it’s pretty darn easy to fool oneself.  It’s my hunch that these pediatric stuttering programs (especially Lidcombe) tend to “teach to the test” (i.e., “fluent” speech while testing) rather than truly eradicate the stuttered neural state.  In any event, I continue to read their articles and try to keep an open mind.

But to the point, I love their use of buzzwords / buzzphrases:  (1) “alleviate stuttering in adults for clinically significant periods”.  Yeah–that’s just great; give people hope, have the treatment cease to be effective; add on to their iceberg; yeah–that’s a great practice.  (2) “best-practice treatment”.  I guess this describes their goal described in #1.  (In essence, they’re trying to teach kids to the test, and the test is to conceal stuttering while being monitored.)  In any event, this is ceasing to be fun at the moment, so I’ll stop.  I do like how they’re looking at telehealth (buzzword!), because I do see this as a future.  But not necessarily for their application.  There are remote / rural areas of Australia (and Alaska, for that matter) where this is really necessary–so that’s great.  But I see another use which gives clients the power of choice.  To see a legitimate competent professional, rather than the yocal that’s in your local area.

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Interesting Observation in SLP Research

I was pleased to see that researchers who are collecting data on specific language impairments are intentionally excluding children with any history of stuttering (even if there’s spontaneous recovery) from their trials.  This may be anecdotal and have no real validity whatsoever, but my language skills pretty much stink…  (And yes, there is a lot of data linking relative delays in language proficiency with stuttering.) Anyway–I find this to be interesting research, not because of the way it’s presented, but because of how the data can be interpreted. More and more, I am under the belief (perhaps illusion) that stuttered speech is nothing more than a reflexive behavior that the body uses to deal with the stuttering phenomenon (which is best represented as a neurological state). So we produce stuttering behaviors to kick-start (or get out of) our stuttered neural state. This leads me to believe that stuttering has 2 components; the stuttered neural state, and a reflexive behavioral compensation to the stuttered neural state. (So why kids can have 1 without the other, and why some kids/adults have to have them both…fascinates me.  My gut is that it reflects the location of the neural error in the language formulation/production process.)

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Stuttering in the media and pop-culture

Quite a few mentions of stuttering by the media and in pop-culture.

First up, read a mothers posts about her son that has just begin to demonstrate stuttering-like disfluencies.  I’m always a big fan of these kind of posts, as they are a raw reflection of gut-wrenching humanity.

Next up, read about how “New York Jets rookie Slauson succeeding despite stutter.”  If you know me, you’ll know I’m rolling my eyes about right now…  What a (negative) prejudicial statement.  They might as well come out and said it: “Amazing story of how someone with a personal character flaw can inexplicably succeed even though they haven’t overcome said character weakness.”  The inherent flaws within much of stuttering research and pop-culture are one in the same.  In any event, this guy is a good athlete because he is a good athlete; it’s not rocket-science.

Next up, read a ‘coming of age’ post relative to learning to live with (or despite of) stuttering.  Again, it’s gut-wrenching reality in real-time.  Difference being that when I was 12, I thought I was alone–and I largely was alone.  Now, 12 year old’s have access to the internet, which means that they are not alone.

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Advancements in stuttering research continue to tell us what we already know…

Read an interesting article that just confirms what I’ve been telling my students for years.  And it’s funny to read where the authors are still a little clueless.  Exhibit A: “Although stuttering is regarded as a speech-specific disorder, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that subtle abnormalities in the motor planning and execution of non-speech gestures exist in stuttering individuals.”  Sorry–been there, done that.  Stuttering isn’t a speech disorder; it’s documented to exist in any number of expressive linguistic modalities.

In any event, the abstract concludes with “These results demonstrated that neural activation differences in PWS are not speech-specific.”  And that’s a good start.  What we’ll find is that people will begin to see stuttering (the pathology) as a chronic neurological state.  Stuttered speech (i.e., behavioral manifestation to the stuttered neural state) will be differentiated from the stuttering pathology (i.e., chronic neural state).  Not only that, but we’ll begin to pay attention to the stuttering phenomenon in any number of other expressive modalities, if not in select motor acts (using the BGCT).  Hopefully, the field of SLP and stuttering researchers will take off the blinders and see that the word “stuttering” is not sufficiently precise; there is the stuttered nerual state, and the behavioral act of stuttering (which is the observable manifestation of the neural state).

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Redefining a ‘win’ relative to stuttering

Some pretty interesting stuttering-related content coming off the internets over the past 48 hours…

Steven on Stuttering makes a great post on transcending some of the societal punishment / discrimination, thereby making us better people.  I couldn’t agree w/ him more.

Make Room for the Stuttering post about prejudicial discimination within the stuttering population.  Those with a greater level of overt stuttering severity challenging the stuttering ‘street-cred’ of those w/ less overt stuttering severity.  Such mindsets will not result in success, as it focuses on all things external and not self-improvement of the internal.  (Further, the recent study finding that stuttering’s impact on quality of live is independent of overt stuttering severity.)

Finally–and perhaps most interesting to me–was the account of a stutterer making his first phone call in some 7 and a half years.  Did the call go smoothly?  Probably not.  But that doesn’t matter.  The call was made, therefore, it’s a win.

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