Wednesday, April 05, 2017

European Clinical Specialization Course on Fluency Disorders

The European Clinical Specialization Course on Fluency Disorders is a one-year program - compatible with the workload of an SLT - for speech-language therapists wanting to become European Fluency Specialists. It consists of 25 credits (ECTS). Graduates of this course will distinguish themselves by their outstanding ability, in-depth knowledge and expertise in the field of fluency disorders. The program provides specialist knowledge and skills, that can be recognized by your local professional body as important criteria leading to clinical specialization.

The program is run by a consortium consisting of 16 partners (universities, colleges, specialized centers) from 9 European countries and will start its tenth course cycle in September 2017.

We would like to inform you that registration for the 1718-course cycle and pre-registration for the 1819-course cycle are open. (For the 1718-cycle only a few places are still available) 

The application procedure can be found here.

The ECSF consortium

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Firing of veteran NIH scientist prompts protests over publication ban

A very sad story. A senior researchers got fired because he did not adhere to the very strict and often completely uselees but politically correct procedures. Result: the valid experimental data (on stuttering!) cannot be used in a scientific publication and the junior researchers face professional disaster under the "publish or perish" doctrine. Nan and Jerry asked for sanity for the sake of research.

Read here.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Latest review on genetics research

If you want to read the latest review on genetics and stuttering, you should read this Open Access article by Drayna and  Frigerio-Domingues.

Drayna is team leader at NIH for genetics of stuttering.

[Thanks to Ora for the tip]

Saturday, January 21, 2017

We do not need a witch hunt against those that mock our stuttering!

I am shocked to read that

A Starbucks barista has been suspended from their job after apparently ‘humiliating’ a man with a speech impediment by writing his name as ‘RRR…ichard’ on his order.
I certainly do not want that the person loses his job.

I suggest that that person and the person who got mocked meet and they talk through it.

But I also suggest that we stutterers should learn not to be offended by every little politically incorrect word or action that people who have no clue do. Change yourself and you will be Zen, and most importantly, you will have the strength to give the person useful feedback.

And I suggest that the BSA (British Stammering Association) should not become like an inquisition and change its tone to "many people are unaware of the issues faced by people who stutter but we are against punishing someone but in favour of them meeting up with people who stutter to understand their perspective."

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Nan's Fluency Bank

Check out the Fluency Bank!
FluencyBank is a shared database for the study of the development of fluency in both normal and disordered populations. Support comes from NIH Grant 1R01DC015494; P.I.s are Nan Bernstein-Ratner (University of Maryland) and Brian MacWhinney (Carnegie Mellon University) . Participants include normally-developing monolingual and bilingual children, children with disfluencies (CWD), adults with disfluencies (AWSD, and second language learners. Researchers and clinicians studying fluency who are interested in joining the consortium should read the Ground Rules and then request a username and password by sending email to with contact information and affiliation.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Stuttering in advertising

Joe Gill writes to me:
Growing up with a stammer and studying to go into the Graphic Design industry I found that nearly all advertising aimed towards stammering was either very condescending or just outright bad design. I tried to tackle this with a design of a poster advertising campaign for 'The Starfish Project'.
What's your opinion? I really like the texts as they get to the heart of what it is like to be a person who stutters.

Here is an article on his work.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The new treatment approach: Stutter Pride

Here is what I recently read in a document need for damage control resulting from strong debates between various teams (fluency shapists, stuttering modifiers, and "stutter pride" proponents).

Until recently, we had two approaches: fluency shaping (learn how to speak in a new and more fluent way) and stuttering modification (learn how to modify your stuttering for the better).

Now, we have in analogy to Gay Pride, Stutter Pride. You say: it's OK that I stutter, actually it is not only OK, it's great because it makes me special and we should tell the world that we are proud to be stutterers. The approach is clear: define-away the problem. Just declare that there is no problem, or at the very least that this difference to the norm is no issue at all and it's society and the affected person brainwashed by society to set those norms. And in a second step, unleash political correctness on your enemies, because everyone who declares that fluent speech is the norm and that they do not like to listen to people who stutter, are stutter-phobes (in analogy to homophobes) is an enemy

Monday, August 22, 2016

Watch Area 44 and not Area 51!

Looks like a very interesting piece of brain imaging work by the Martin Sommer team with the main author Nicole Neef here:
Area 44 is a cytoarchitectonically distinct portion of Broca's region. Parallel and overlapping large-scale networks couple with this region thereby orchestrating heterogeneous language, cognitive and motor functions. In the context of stuttering, area 44 frequently comes into focus because structural and physiological irregularities affect developmental trajectories, stuttering severity, persistency, and etiology. A remarkable phenomenon accompanying stuttering is the preserved ability to sing. Speaking and singing are connatural behaviours recruiting largely overlapping brain networks including left and right area 44. Analysing which potential subregions of area 44 are malfunctioning in adults who stutter, and what effectively suppresses stuttering during singing, may provide a better understanding of the coordination and reorganization of large-scale brain networks dedicated to speaking and singing in general. We used fMRI to investigate functionally distinct subregions of area 44 during imagery of speaking and imaginary of humming a melody in 15 dextral males who stutter and 17 matched control participants. Our results are fourfold. First, stuttering was specifically linked to a reduced activation of left posterior-dorsal area 44, a subregion that is involved in speech production, including phonological word processing, pitch processing, working memory processes, sequencing, motor planning, pseudoword learning, and action inhibition. Second, left posterior-area-44-to-parietal functional coupling was deficient in stuttering. Third, despite the preserved ability to sing, males who stutter showed bilaterally a reduced activation of area 44 when imagine humming a melody, suggesting that this fluency-enhancing condition seems to bypass posterior-dorsal area 44 to achieve fluency. Fourth, time courses of the posterior subregions in area 44 showed delayed peak activations in the right hemisphere in both groups, possibly signaling the offset response. Because these offset response-related activations in the right hemisphere were comparably large in males who stutter, our data suggest a hyperactive mechanism to stop speech motor responses and thus possibly reflect a pathomechanism, which, until now, has been neglected. Overall, the current results confirmed a recently described co-activation based parcellation supporting the idea of functionally distinct subregions of left area 44.
Area 44 seems to be a kind of orchestra conductor, which goes somewhat into recent suggestions (and my belief) that stuttering is a system failure, i.e. that it's not necessarily a single function (in one area) breaking down but the system of different interacting areas as a whole but in this case it's one area that is needed to orchestrate the system. But I have to say that I do not know enough about this topic to make more informed comments.