Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Presentations from Antwerp

You can find the presentations (including my own) from the Antwerp conference: here.

If you want to give feedback to the organizers, please fill in their feedback form. You can only change the future of conference by making your opinion known.

My recommendations would be:

a. key note speeches not longer than one hour, and half an hour questions and debate if needed initiated by session chair. We need to avoid long monologues.

b. less key note speeches and two panel sessions on a specific question like What does the gene discovery mean? or How should we treat kids?

c. one key note speaker should give a review of the field over the last five years.

d. have at least one young researcher under 40 speaking.

e. restrict video conference to one or two speakers. if they don't bother turning up, leave them out.

f. better food at lunch time.

g. organize a get together on the evening before the conference so participants have the opportunity to liaise and network.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Summary of Antwerp conference

I am back from the Antwerp conference. Here is a quick report.

As last time, the conference was well organized and set in a beautiful town. Except the lunch! I paid 20 euros for a terrible terrible deal. On the first day, the food was really bad. Some crumbling sandwiches made without much love. Paul bought a superb sandwich outside for 3 euros and I effectively had paid 10 euros for the cheapest sandwiches you could possible imagine. On the second day, words of discontent must have propagated to the conference organizers and the lunch buffet was more or less appropriate for the 10 euros. But, I could only eat a banana, because the evening before I had eaten mussels with Belgium fries and was still not feeling too well even though I had digested them properly, which could not be said about Suzanna from Croatia according to confidential reports. So I effectively paid 10 euros for a banana!

I must say that I and many others I spoke too were not very impressed with some key note speakers and the focus and content of the conference in general. Let's start with deconstructing the key note speakers. First, we have Ken Louis who gave two (!) key note speeches. First, why two key note speeches? Was this the result of some horse trading and backroom deal? Why not give the second slot to a young scientist or therapist?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Preparing my presentation for Antwerp

The Antwerp conference is this Friday and Saturday, and I am giving a one-hour workshop on Explaining natural recovery.

Over the last 2-3 years, I have developed a framework within which to understand stuttering. But as always, laziness and being distracted has prevented me from actually writing it up. So the conference is a good opportunity. I will start out with a general framework, and use this framework to give a possible explanation of natural recovery.

What are the key concepts?

1) The core underlying reason for stuttering is a neurobiological deficit leading to a functional deficit.

2) This functional deficit is an abnormally frequent and abnormally long delay in speech initiation despite the fact that the message to be spoken is ready and the person want to say the message.

3) This deficit can have many different causes like genes, incidents during development, or a combination. So there are subtypes in the cause.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Stockholm syndrome in Speech Easy TV cures

Peter Reitzes from StutterTalk has a brilliant and measured follow-up of his Mark Babcock interview on Oprah's Speech Easy miracle cures. Two more media stars of Speech Easy users. As expected both still stutter, even severely. Check out Peter's interview with them.

Amazingly they are both suffering from the Stockholm syndrome: victims of kidnaps often sympathize with their kidnappers! And they blame themselves thereby increasing the risk of others falling victim, too.

Wesley did not want to speak publicly, but wrote that he gave up on Speech Easy and stutters, and shockingly:
Since that time I was approached by GMA for a follow-up segment, which I declined. I've always felt a sense of respect for the guys at ECU and what they did (and hopefully are still doing), so I don't want my personal decisions to not use the device or my personal experiences with the device to be indicative of its success or my feelings towards it.
His thinking is so distorted. Why did you give up Speech Easy? Very simple. Because Speech Easy does not work! You have been deluded, and more so: you are taking the blame. They paraded you like cattle for commercial gains, the shows and Janus, and you defend them?? You sound like a wife explaining away her husband beating her or like a woman blaming her sexy cloth for not reporting rape. Not only does she not report a crime, but she does not prevent that man beating or raping another woman again. Millions have seen your cure, and thousands have spent thousands of dollars of bogus treatment because of you! By not re-appearing on the show, you are actively misleading your fellow sufferer. Wes, it was not just your personal decision to stop. It is the decision of the vast majority of Speech Easy users!

And then we have Rebecca. She too was paraded, as the cute poor teenage calf that had been stuttering and was saved from slaughter with a miracle cure. Well, I just listened to you: I can't even understand most of the words you are saying. You stutter even worse than me when I am on StutterTalk! There is not a single sign of a cure, but still you say that you are using Speech Easy for special occasions. Fine, might work for you on those occasions. But why did you not use it on StutterTalk? They showed you up as a cure. Rebecca comes across as the type of girl that wants to be nice to everyone, and just hiding the obvious... And she shockingly reminds me of the typical behaviour of young women that got sexually abused by their father, and only in their mid twenties do they realize what actually happened to them!

Wes and Rebecca, as time goes on and you reflect, you will agree with me. But not now. You hate me for writing what I just wrote, and defend your kidnappers. And thousands are buying Speech Easy in the hope to be what they think you are! Contact the media and tell the truth.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mark: Anything for Science

In a 1992 article in the Journal of Fluency Disorders, Charles Van Riper told of how he and fellow graduate student Wendell Johnson served as experimental white rats at the University of Iowa during the early 1930s.

"Our brain waves were checked; needles were inserted into our tongues and the nervous impulses recorded on the smoked drum of a kymograph; we took various drugs - cocaine, hashish, mescaline to see how they would affect our speech."

Now there's some interesting research. Not the needles in the tongue part - the other stuff.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Well done Peter Reitzes!

Congratulations to Peter Reitzes from StutterTalk for outstanding journalism debunking Oprah on stuttering cures! He brilliantly exposes the irresponsible and misleading actions of the Oprah Winfrey show and others. Presenting Speech Easy as a cure, and showing miracle cures. Peter did what I wanted to do, find the stutterers "that were cured" like Mark Babcock and talk to him. I didn't follow up but Peter did. Well done StutterTalk!

You can read about Mark's summary here on his blog, and what happened to him after the show:
I humored her for a little while before finally admitting what I had know for a while: the SpeechEasy device did not work.

The next 6 months were probably the worst of my life. My dream of being fluent had slipped through my fingers. I withdrew from friends, I stopped going to class, and I drank. I finished spring semester with a 0.5 GPA, and I was put on academic probation. I blamed everything but stuttering for my downward spiral. I refused to accept that I actually wanted to be fluent that much. The let down had crushed me.

Greedy Oprah has made money, a lot of money on the back of victims without due care to checks, a criminal behaviour in my view. Build up their hopes and don't care anymore. The same for Speech Easy, they made thousands of dollars out of him. Again, shame on those who work for Speech Easy! Listen to your conscience!

Thank you, Mark Babcock. For going on StutterTalk and telling your side of the story. For too long you have been a pawn of the Oprah and Speech Easy industry. The more you talk to us, the more you realize this!

I am wondering whether we could not do more. Maybe send an open letter to the media outlet, and complain! Storm the Oprah Winfrey show with posters! Handcuff ourselves to Oprah! We should try to contact all of them. There was also this girl in her 20s who tried it. And then make a YouTubes videos. That should be a very powerful message.