Wednesday, February 28, 2007

ISA conference in Croatia in May

The ISA conference will be in Croatia in Dubrovnik in May. You might still remember Dubrovnik from the conflict of the breakup of the former Yugoslav Republics. It is a very old and beautiful town with a lot of cultural history. It is good to know that the region now focuses again on tourism.

The ISA conference is organised by the International Stuttering Association which is the umbrella association of national stuttering associations. Its focus is more on the people who stutter, even though therapists and researcher are there, too. It is organised by Suzana Jelčić Jakšić, a very energetic therapist who seems to be at all conferences that I have been too!

You can find more information here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I hate babys

Do you know why I hate babies? They remind me of my stuttering. I am 34, and unfortunately all my friends and my brother are having babies via their wifes. And the damn little things look at me with astonishment when I have a block and say "ehhhh". They look at me with their big eyes with a "ahh, what is this?". People that I know have the decency to ignore my stuttering, and people I do not know just try to hide their reactions. But you babies, you dont! So if any baby reads these lines, now you know why I hate you! ;-)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Stuttering Comic Jody Fuller

Check out this YouTube video from Jody Fuller who works as a stuttering comic and says that he stutters himself. His website is here.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Has therapy improved? (Part I)

Holger Stenzel commented that therapy has not much changed over the last decades, did not help him much and has no great potential for improvement.

Due to my still relatively young age of 34, I can only compare between now and 20 years ago. Here are my observations.

1) Therapists know more about stuttering, and have to accept that a) stuttering has a genetic component, and b) the brain is working differently.

2) Few therapists are left that believe that stuttering is purely due to psychological troubles.

3) Many therapists realise that self-help therapies like McGuire are as effective if not more effective in some cases, but are not suited for the more sensitive types.

4) Many therapists realise that the most effective therapies are multi-dimensional.

5) Relapse is taken much more seriously, and maintenance plays are more important role.

6) Self-therapy (helping yourself) has become so much easier, especially the first steps towards making stuttering a dimension in your life that you need to work on as opposed to the one thing in your life that controls you. The reasons for this progress are

a) Learning about your stuttering is so much easier.

Everyone with access to the Internet can find out about his/her stuttering without any danger of being outed. Twenties years ago many lived a life of ignorance about their disorder. No possibility to get objective feedback apart from some stupid comments from your grandmother, the secretary of your school, and so on.

b) Getting to talk to your stuttering brothers and sisters is so much easier.

Everyone can get in contact with other people who stutter relatively anonymously and safely in a chatroom, email or forum. You do not need to go to a strange room, in a strange part of town, meeting people that you have never seen before, and so on.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Has therapy changed? (Part II)

c) Setting up meeting is so much easier.

We find each other who live in the same area much easier to form self-help groups or just go for a drink.

d) Making a more informed decision is much easier.

The Internet lets us compare different therapies, and understand the advantages and potential pitfalls.

All this changed but that does not mean that therapies are much more effective. But I would argue that now as compared to 20 years many many more people who stutter at the very least have gone from a state of ignorance to a state of understanding much better than stuttering is about.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Relative risk vs absolute

Yesterday evening I met up with Melanie and Einar in Luxembourg-City. We all stutter and spend 4 hours discussing many things with varying degrees of fluency.

Medication to treat stuttering came up, and they were concerned about side-effects especially for the long-term. I realised that it is important to look at the relative rather than absolute risk. The right question to ask is "How much riskier is taking the medication over 20 years as opposed to stuttering more severely for 20 years?" (assuming the medication does alleviate stuttering), and NOT "How risky is taking the medication over 20 years?". Stuttering can add a lot of emotional stress and handicap to a person's life, especially to those that never went to a self-help group or therapy. For many, quality of life is lower and for some possibly even life duration!

Another illustration of this concept is having a LASIK operation to correct long-distance vision. You shouldnt ask how risky is the procedure but how risky is it compared to wearing contact lenses as an alternative. And then LASIK is actually less risky than contact lenses due to risk of infection, discomfort, and so on. Of course, wearing glasses is the safest option, even though I could argue that in accident glasses break and cause facial or eye injuries, and you have a reduced vision field...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Review article on stuttering treatment

Here is an interesting review article by Bothe, Davidow, Bramlett and Ingham: see here.

Review of studies that met the trial quality inclusion criterion established for this review suggested that response-contingent principles are the predominant feature of the most powerful treatment procedures for young children who stutter. The most powerful treatments for adults, with respect to both speech outcomes and social, emotional, or cognitive outcomes, appear to combine variants of prolonged speech, self-management, response contingencies, and other infrastructural variables. Other specific clinical recommendations for each age group are provided, as are suggestions for future research.