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1 Jul 2009, 8:44am
Stuttering.Microblog
6 comments

The interpretation of therapy results fails when the treatment teaches to the test

I’m really at a loss if I should keep pointing out the cargo-cult pseudoscience in the field of SLP.  But alas, here’s another example–including many of the same researchers on this little gem.  This study is measures the effects of syllable-timed speech to treat preschool children who stutter.  In English–this means…”Does talking like a slow monosyllabic robot cure kids from stuttering?”  The abstract says “yes, but it takes 6 visits.”  I couldn’t bring myself to read the article.  Sorry.

What’s the flaw?  The kids are being taught to the test.  Talk in such an unnatural way that overt stuttering is impossible.  Measure that the kid isn’t overtly stuttering.  (Profit!)  Assume that this unnatural “fluency” will result in a life-long recovery from stuttering.  So gang….are we buying this?  Make a kid talk like a robot and assume stuttering is cured?

No–I’m not saying that direct pediatric stuttering therapy is bad… not by a long shot.  But this research group has to recognize that they can’t quantify the stuttering phenomenon.  And their attempts to quantify the disorder results in them fooling themselves into success that they’re likely not really having.

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1 Jul 2009, 9:51am
by Bethany


Hey Greg, the articles that you find are funny and ridiculous lol. I like the one that you found about the perschool children and “robotic unnatural talking”. I remember watching “True Life” and some person on there (I think it was a boy), well anyway his speech therapist when he was younger told him to talk like this he did and the kids mad fun of him and them he bcame covert. I myself have never really tried this method and would think it would be more fustrating to talk like this b/c it’s so unnatural. :)

[Reply]

Greg @ Stuttering.me Reply:

Yeah–when I was a kid, one of my SLPs told me to, “Talk.Like.A.Robot.” I was even told to “talk like a robot or don’t talk at all.” Even as a kid of 7, I knew this was entirely bogus, but as a kid–it’s tough to entirely reject what the adults are saying.

[Reply]

Is the good doctor a bit cynical?

So good you are back and gracing us with your comments.

[Reply]

Greg @ Stuttering.me Reply:

I’m trying not to be cynical…it’s just quite frustrating to see people publish stuttering research articles that are flawed from the start. Not only that, the authors don’t even seem to appreciate that their entire conceptual understanding on stuttering is flawed. *grrrr*

[Reply]

Who decides if a stuttering research article gets published? Who researches the research?

[Reply]

Greg @ Stuttering.me Reply:

There is a system of peer-review. So if I submit an article somewhere, it’s usually reviewed by at least 2 or 3 other qualified professionals in the field. (In addition to the journal editors.) But this gatekeeping is a little deceiving. First, there are a lot more journals than there used to be, so it’s a lot easier to get something accepted (due to lowered standards, I guess). Secondly, the reviews are still subject to the paradigm at the time. So if the ‘group-think’ is wrong, they’ll continue to accept journals that are within their ‘group-think’, and reject articles that are beyond it.

It’s really interesting… my ideas from 10 years ago (which were summarily rejected then) are now being published (by the same journal!) The ideas are the same, but the reviewers have changed.

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