Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Oxford Dysfluency Conference 2005

The Oxford Dysfluency Conference is one of the few PDS conferences worldwide. Others are the IFA and ISA congresses, and ASHA which is not PDS specific. IFA is the International Fluency Association (mostly practionners, researchers, but also others), ISA is the International Stuttering Association (the umbrella association of all national associations), and ASHA is the American Speech and Hearing Association.

There is a conference this year from July 29th to June 2nd. It is organised by the Michael Palin Centre. The conference organisors are Frances Cook and Dave Rowley . The Michael Palin Centre has been at the forefront in the UK in offering specialist therapy from dysfluent children and also adolescents. They are mostly funded by the Association of Research into Stammering in Childhood . But that's really a misnomer, as I havent seen much, if any, research coming out of the centre. Their focus and expertise is really on therapy. But they deserve credit for organising the ODC in the UK which in terms of quantity and quality of research (in comparison to US and Germany) is rather in the Middle Ages.

The conference atmosphere is a bit strange in the sense that it's not really a scientific/research conference (the majority are practionners) and not really a therapist gathering (as there are scientists attending). So it's interesting to see this culture clash between consensus-building communication style by therapists and the confrontational-truth-seeking style by researchers/scientists. The point really is that in therapy patients are entitled to their opinion, in science if your opinion is wrong, it's wrong and everyone tells you. So what's best? Depends on the situation. In therapy, and especially group therapy, you need to accept other people's opinions to work with them even if you think it's wrong, but most of the time there is no absolute truth like do you like green or blue, what is the best political party. But in science there is often one truth, and there is nothing more corrosive for scientific debate than having to be afraid that someone is personally offended if you point out that his/her opinion is wrong due to a logical fallacy or convincing arguments.

I will also talk at ODC. The topic is my analysis of patient data (300!) of a fluency shaping therapy in Germany called KST . They are really big in Germany, and have collected a massive amount of data over several years with German zeal, I might add. :-)

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