Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Guest Blogger Mark Bulger

Just a quick note: I invited Mark Bulger to be a guest blogger at The Stuttering Brain with 1-2 posts per week. I read a few posts on his newly established blog, and I found them all interesting. Adding a new and different perspective. His educational background is biology and genetics, and I always felt that I neglected the genetics part a bit. So I am looking forward to his ideas on genetics.


Anonymous said...

how much does Mark know about Plant genetics? Big difference between plants and humans. Plant genetics vs. human genetics!

Anonymous said...


Jane Fraser and the Stuttering Foundation of America has announced that Dennis Drayna, Ph.D. and his group of researchers have discovered 3 genes for stuttering.

In her announcement, Fraser indicates "...a cure may be years away... & ...Early treatment in young children can effectively prevent stuttering."

Dr. Drayna and his group of researchers wonder if "enzyme replacement therapy might be a possible method for treating some types of stuttering in the future."

Bummer - I had treatment and early intervention and still ended up stuttering severely. Someone must have messed up cause they couldn't prevent me from stuttering. Guess I just wanted to. Maybe my parents messed up because it sure wasn't the therapy to prevent it or therapist working to prevent it. Probably wasn't the right kind of stuttering to be prevented.

Now all us guinea stutterers... line up and take the pill (no stupid, that was last week!), injection... for the cure after the failure of the prevent therapy.

Aw, sh**.. Be sure you have the right kind of stuttering as well.

ig88sir said...

Hello Anonymous,

As Tom stated regarding the Lidcombe therapy program there is no empirical evidence that early intervention works. There were still relapsed patients. Most stuttering children outgrow it on their own. You either have the genes to recover as a child or you do not.

I have tried the pill and it did not work for me (e.g.,Pagaclone and Zyprexa). Hopefully this new marvel will help me and others.

So far the best help I've had (and I've tried most of them) is my own tricks, confidence, anti-depressants, and in bad situations the speech tools I learned from the Mcguire program.

Also why are people Anonymous? I have yet to meet a "covert" stutterer that can pass as fluent at all times. Most people will eventually find out you stutter (e.g., at work, etc). You can let go of all that WASTED energy in trying to hide it. They will find out anyway..

Mark B. said...

Correction - that's Bulger, not Bulg. ;-)

To Anonymous above - genetics is genetics. Much of what we know about genetics comes from fruit flies, mice, and assorted plants. If you remember your introductory biology, Gregor Mendel introduced the modern study of genetics by studying garden peas.

Anonymous said...

There is significant evidence to show that early intervention works. True, it does not work for all - but that is true for any treatment for any kind of condition. It certainly works for some.
The anger towards therapists on this site always angers and saddens me - some people must have had some pretty bad experiences to have such negative attitudes. To those people, I would say that not all therapists are created equal - if you've had a bad experience with one, go find one that does know what they're doing!

Mark B. said...

I am not aware of significant evidence that early intervention works to any great degree. I am aware of such claims, but not good evidence. So many children recover without therapy that it would be very difficult to prove that therapy was effective without doing unethical experiments.

I have no anger towards therapist - though I recognize that others certainly do. My only therapist as a child was a nice lady. She didn't help me in any way that I can recall, but she did her best and did no harm either.

When therapists assert that early intervention works, they need to prove it, not desire it. When you're doing your best to help people, it's easy for your optimism to run away with you. And if all your efforts are effectively for naught, it's a bitter pill to swallow.

My own best guess is that therapy may help a small subset of children to recover. The fact is that upwards of 80% recover on their own. If therapy worked in a majority of cases, the total recovery rate would have to be in the 90s. And those results would have to be followed for years to be sure of no relapse.

Anonymous said...

to anonymous of feb. 12 -

do you work for the SFA or the Oswald group? what a bunch of dung re: "early prevention" they both put out.

the fact that Mark B. alludes to - upwards of 80% recover on their own - is sooooo true! both the SFAer's and Aussies take credit for the idea they and their therapy prevented or cured stuttering in children. what a crock!

now will Jane Fraser and her SFA speechies, as well as Oswalds group, take any blame for the failure of therapy or the therapist when the preventative magic fails miserably, or even more hideously, contribute to more severe stuttering developing?

no way. never. it is always the stutterer's fault when therapy and therapists fail. always.

I'm betting you work for Jane or the Aussie's.

and me? iiii jj jj just ssssssstutter.

Tom Weidig said...


I just want to say that we should not forget the possibility that early intervention does modulate the symptoms if done well.

And children learn not to be less embarrassed about speaking and know that others exist.

Best wishes,

Anonymous said...

I can't prove anything, but my anecdotal experience may be of interest: My son started stuttering at age 3, and naturally I was horrified. It began quite quickly and unexpectedly, and quickly became quite severe.

I was faced with a choice: ignoring it and hoping that he would be one of the 80% who outgrows it, or do something about it. When it's your own child, there is a special sense of urgency.

What worried me was that his stuttering quickly deteriorated in severe blocks, he obviously struggled and became very aware of the defect and that something was interfering with his speech. Awareness and severity are, according to the text books, pointers that he would not outgrow it. In addition I did not want to stand by and watch helplessly while he struggled with these immense blocks.

So I started to teach him the fluency techniques which I use myself. He was a quick learner (still is) and quickly grasped what he needed to do, and began managing his blocks. It worked very well for him, probably because he was so young and a good and intelligent learner.

He is now 17 years old and seems 95% cured, he is in matric now and enjoys speaking in class and wants to join a school debating club this year. He's developed in a very confident boy, which obviously helps. I don't think he's 100% cured and he might still get a relapse when older and subject to more severe stresses, but so far all's well. He told me he only has a bit of a problem when he wants to tell a joke, but stuttering is certainly not an impediment at this stage. He anyway knows what to do should he really stutter.

Sorry for the long post, but I think I made the right decision in intervening early. I'm sure that early intervention helps provided that the intervener knows what he / she is doing; fortunately I was in a position to help him. Regards, Peter Louw

Anonymous said...

Angry anonymous -

I'm a therapist who works in the area of stuttering. And I would love to know about those therapists that blame their clients for not succeeding with a therapy program, because I'm sure they could do with an update of their clinical skills, not to mention their therapeutic manner.
A therapy program may not have the desired outcomes for a variety of reasons. The nature of the therapy, the skill of the therapist and the motivation of the client are all factors and rarely stand out in isolation of each other. That you have reduced the potential for a treatment to not work into the attitude of 'therapists always blame the client' suggests to me that you have had some bad experiences with therapy. And I'm sorry to hear that.