Thursday, November 07, 2013

Who can organise a cheap IFA congress?

IFA has sent around this email to its members seeking candidates for organizing the IFA congress 2015. I very much appreciate that IFA is seeking to organize a cheap conference where many different parties can participate, even those from less wealthy nations and those who are self-paying.
IFA’s Meetings and Conferences Committee has been working on a proposal for the 2015 World Congress to be held in Canada. However, we have been unable to contain costs to the extent that was requested by IFA members in the feedback received from the 2012 IFA survey.

Therefore, we are expanding our options with 21 months available for planning. We have received an expression of interest from a southern European country. For the sake of openness and inclusiveness, however, we would like to hear from any other groups that might be willing to host the 2015 IFA World Congress. Others who hosted the IFA’s World Congress have reported that it is a wonderful way to contribute to the mission of IFA and to “show off” your part of the world while gaining international attention.

Minimum requirements are:
·         Conference facilities for 250-300 delegates
·         Large main conference room plus two rooms for parallel sessions/posters
·         Good connection to international airport
·         Affordable/modestly priced accommodations nearby

To facilitate timely communication, please contact any member of the committee with your preliminary questions as soon as possible. We will need to receive your completed proposal by November 15, 2013.

Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this request that promises to result in an exciting 2015 IFA World Congress.

Kind regards,
Hilda Sønsterud, on behalf of the IFA Meetings and Conferences Committee

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

What happened to this study?

Is anyone aware of the outcome of the dopamine study apparently completed in 2010 in the US: see here.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Senna herb gives fluency?

Blog readers often approach me to share their fluency "wonders". I cannot take away their experience, and believe that they indeed have had significant fluency gains. I can only disagree with their interpretation. I find that their stories follow a similar pattern: A takes X for Y. Suddenly, A experiences much greater fluency and is amazed that he/she can speak so fluently. Interestingly, they do not report 100% fluency but only a significant reduction of fluency. This pattern suggest to me that an underlying neurological issue is still present but that a change in brain chemicals (including being more relaxed or depressed) significantly influence fluency. I also want to warn you that I cannot check their stories or check their backgrounds. They could of course just try to manipulate me in promoting the substance because they have commercial interests in it. Anyway, here is the story:
About 6 months ago I had stomach issues so someone suggested to try senna herb it's known as a laxative for the stomach to make your bowl move after drinking the tea. So I bought the leaves from the Internet and started making it into a tea I started with not alot about 5 grams and 200 ml of water boil it for 5 min and drink it.. After 2 weeks or so I noticed a strange thing I started stuttering and blocking less.. M
aybe it was just a placebo effect. But continue using it the stuttering was i would say improved by 90% I would talk to people and not stutter, I would phone people and not stutter. I would have the occasional here and there but all in all it's such a big improvement.. Now the science part the stuff that makes u have diarrhea is senneniods in the senna herb that is what scientist have discovered. I am pretty sure it's not that that makes u stutter less. If scientists can remove the sennionds from the herb. I am sure there is something in this herb that doesn't make you stutter, if u cut down in it u will stutter again I tried leaving the herbs for 2 weeks and the stutter came right back. I hope someone can do research about this wonderful herb surely smth in it a chemical helps stuttering, I have given it to a friend who stutters as well after a while his stuttering was improved by 80%. Thanks thus was my experience with senna herb

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Portuguese Stuttering Association: National Conference

On the 26th October, the Portuguese Stuttering Association will organize its VII Stuttering NAtional Conference. The program will be the following: 9:30- Opening session I and my stutter: life testimonies of people who stutter Speakers: Paulo Guerra, José Pedrosa, Tiago Almeida, Carlos Ferreira. Stuttering and employability Speakers: Maria Amélia Marques, André Carmo, Joana Caldas Success in therapy: What does it mean? Speakers: Iris Bonança, Brito Largo, Jaqueline Carmona, Gonçalo Leal, Mónica Rocha Rapporteur: Helena Germano SHGs and the online forum: The experience in Portugal Speakers: Rosa Paula Neves, José Carlos Domingues, Joana Caldas, André Caiado, Jorge Silva Commentators: Daniel Neves da Costa, Brito Largo 18:00- Closing session Registrations: members, relatives and students: 10 €, Professionals: 20 € Information and registrations on

Please help researchers in Boston

Please contact Shanqing Cai ( to participate in a scientific study on the Rhythm Effect in Stuttering. It is very important that we help others:
The Speech Laboratory of Boston University is looking for volunteers who stutter to participate in an NIH-funded research on persistent developmental stuttering. Persistent developmental stuttering is a disorder of speech fluency characterized by frequency involuntary disruption of the normal flow of speech by syllable or sound repetitions, prolongations and blockages. It usually starts during early speech development between the age of 2 and 6 and persists into adulthood. This study focuses on the rhythm effect, also known as the metronome effect, which refers to the dramatic decrease in dysfluency when a person who stutters speaks to a regular rhythm. By using a combination of psychophysical and MRI techniques, we aim to elucidate the neural basis of this potent fluency enhancing effect in stuttering, which may also provide further insight into the basis of this disorder.

A letter from Africa

I received a letter from Dieudonn Nsabimana about an initiative on stuttering:
Background: Africa has a population of approximately 10 million people who stutter. Using the universally accepted incidence of stuttering What is the issue or challenge? Still now, People in Africa are not sufficiently informed about stuttering. Because of this lack of information, people who stutter are still mocked and humiliated. For now, almost all resources on stuttering are in internet in English language but 92% Africans people do not have access on internet And still now, there is also little information about any appropriate treatment for stuttering and almost, people who stutter in Africa, do not have access on stuttering therapy How we will solve those problems? AFRICA STUTTERING RESEARCH CENTRE have launch and have objective to promote research, to train Africans Speech & Language Therapists and to educate on stuttering in Africa About research, for moment a study on stuttering treatment from African Traditional Healers will be launched soon and a study of challenge and strategies on Telepractice in africa will be launched About stuttering treatments, Currently, Telepractice is only the therapy method that can be accessed by people who stutter in Africa. Call for applications Volunteer Speech & Language Therapists have launched and nine Therapists from America state have accepted to give stuttering therapy the PWS in Africa, first group will be treated stuttering, in this month of October About educate on stuttering issues in Africa, we have a project for translating, multiplication and distribution the many resources exist on stuttering For now we would like to translating, multiplication and distribution the fee books and brochures for America stuttering foundation The books and brochures will be translated in Swahili language. Swahili is most widely spoken African language. Swahili is spoken in 11 Africa countries and more than 120 million speakers. That makes Swahili the largest African language. Soon as possible we will be launched a fundraising campaign for raising money for translating, multiplication and distribution the books and brochures on stuttering in Swahili language, in 11 Africa countries What you can do for us: -You can interest Speech & Language Therapists in your community to be involved in research and stuttering treatment in Africa -When we launching our fundraising campaign, we would like that you can interest your community to be involved .fundraising campaign will be online fundraising on website Your contribution can help achieve a solution and I will be really appreciated all your great advice All the best, Dieudonne Nsabimana Kigali-RWANDA

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Invitation to Second World Conference on Cluttering in Eindhoven

If you are interested in cluttering, Yvonne van Zaalen is inviting to the second world conference:

You receive this email because of your interest in fluency disorders. In 2014 the second World Conference on Cluttering will be organized by the International Cluttering Association (ICA). Let us all put the intriguing disorder of cluttering and cluttering-stuttering on the map. A good step in doing so is to forward this email to other Speech Language Pathologists that might be interested to learn more about cluttering. If you receive this message more than ones, that means that colleagues around the world are familiar with your interest in fluency disorders, especially cluttering. I hope you will take that as a compliment.

Yvonne van ZaalenChair of the ICA (

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Breast feeding may protect against stuttering???

Today, every single "science" news outlet jumped on the story that breastfeeding may protect against persistent stuttering: see a Science Daily post based on direct sources.

This is a hyped-up science story. Typically, a student does a study of ridiculously low sample size using a questionnaire asking about 100 questions. Then magically a strong correlation comes up. The PR department of the university gets to know about it, and off we go with a press release. If they are lucky, it's also a female student, so they can at the same time satisfy politically correctness and show that girls do great science!

The truth is of course that 95% of this kind of research is completely irrelevant, for various reasons. The biggest one is that the more variables you look for, the more likely one is correlated by chance. And even if you only look for a few variables. Ten students looking for few variables has the same effect combined with the publication bias. Only the one of the ten students finds a strong correlation by chance, and only their research gets paraded around.

And of course nutrients play a great role in giving the infant brain and its DNA the needed resources to create the best possible brain from what the DNA has in store. 100s of things can get wrong in an infant's brain development. But this story just does not make sense to me even on a theoretical level.

Here some sanity checks:

1) If this is really the case and as more girls recover, are we now suppose to believe that boys gets less breastfeeding. Of course not. So why do more girls recover if breast feeding is a key factor?

2) Millions of kids did not get breastfed, do they stutter? No! Do have they neurological deficits?? Not that I am aware of.

To conclude, the research is likely irrelevant, and its marketing damaging, and in my view unethical. Nicoline Ambrose who is known for sound research should have known better. At best, I accuse her of being naive about the media and not having reigned in the PR department of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for over-blowing this piece of research. Now, millions read this and are misled! :-(

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Controversial honoring of Theo Schoenaker at the ISA-congress 2013

Robert van de Vorst wrote to TheStutteringBrain to make us aware of the controversial honoring of Theo Schoenaker who holds views that clash with science. Make up your own mind!

Controversial honoring of Theo Schoenaker at the ISA-congress 2013: Stuttering a neurosis?

By Robert van de Vorst

Recently, on the 10th of June in Lunteren, Theo Schoenaker has been honored for his pioneering work in the field of stuttering (see here). For those unknown with his work, Ton and Theo Schoenaker were the first to offer group-therapy for adult people who stutter in the sixties, under the name ‘Doetinchemse Methode’ (1966-2001). In 1974, Schoenaker emigrated to Germany where he became profoundly influenced by the Individual Psychology developed by Alfred Adler.

In short, based on a psycho-analytical approach, Schoenaker believes that (all) stuttering is a psycho-somatic disorder, a neurosis. He seems thereby to contradict evidence of stuttering as a neurobiological developmental disorder, including subtypes and genetic predispositions.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Visit me in Luxembourg

To all those that will attend the ISA Congress in Lunteren (The Netherlands), I will be there this Saturday and Sunday to attend a meeting of the consumer and self-help group of the International Fluency Association (IFA).

And as Luxembourg is less than 4 hours car drive from the venue, for any one coming from far take the opportunity to visit me in Luxembourg! My email is tom.weidig at!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Switch to a new Reader of my blog feeds!

Keep in mind that Google Reader will be switched off from July 1st onwards. So if you haven't yet done so, use an alternative reader and transfer your links RSS feeds!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Enzyme related to Stuttering determined

I am in exam stress, but check out this article. Chemists have unravelled the internal structure of a protein linked to stuttering in 5% or so of the stuttering population.

This information is useful in understanding how the structure of this "abnormal" protein might cause neuro-anatomical difference in people's brains. But proteins complex 3D beasts that change their structure with temperature and pressure, so any clear cut statements might be difficult to reach unless in a few exceptions.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Post-doctoral position in neuroimaging of stuttering

To all scientists, check out Soo-Eun Chang's job opening for a postdoctoral position in neuroimaging of stuttering: see here. She is moving to the University of Michigan this summer to a position that was endowed for research in stuttering at a medical school, which is a very special opportunity!

Here is the job opening:
The University of Michigan Department Of Psychiatry is seeking candidates for a postdoctoral research fellow position in a brain imaging laboratory that studies the neural bases of stuttering and other related speech-language and developmental disorders.
And become a friend of her group's Facebook page, here.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Specialist course on stuttering


Check out the ECSF course if you want to do a specialist course in stuttering:


The ECSF consortium would like to announce that the registration for the 2013-2014 course cycle is open.

The ‘ECSF’ is a one-year program, providing both the knowledge and the clinical skills, to assist speech-language therapists in becoming European Fluency Specialists. The program is a well-designed combination of lectures, clinical practice and home assignments.

If you are already working as an SLT, this specialization course is compatible with your current workload. Lectures are provided during two intensive weeks, scheduled during the academic year. These modules are combined with follow up sessions in the home country of the participant. The local sessions take place outside the intensive weeks. Preparatory reading and home assignments form an integral part of the course. The specialized clinical training, under supervision of a fluency specialist, can begin after the first intensive week.

Application procedure and application forms can be downloaded here.

Friday, May 03, 2013

How the Internet saved people who stutter

I know that I have not been following up on my video posts. My apologies. I have been and will be quite busy and need to rethink my video-blog strategy. ;-)

Today I want to talk about the Internet and how it has revolutionized our lives in several ways.

Email was just the gift from heaven for me, because I did not have to call people or go to them and explain in spoken words. I could just write an email, fine-tune the email, and send it off. I felt like a normal person not impeded by my stuttering. Of course, that led to all kind of other problems, because now all the bad things that happened to me in response to an email could not be blamed to stuttering! Including unsuccessful talking to girls!

Blogging was another gift, as I could reach the whole community and again was not limited by my speaking. Again. That led to all kinds of other problems, as I decided to say whatever I had on my mind. Maybe as a reaction to all the things that I had on my mind but could not say in all those years. The barrage of to-be-told ideas broke.

The Internet in general provided me with the perfect source of information on stuttering. I could email people, they could email me, I could read all kinds of scientific articles, I could get into other people's mind by reading their first-person experiences, and I could influence the thinking of many people. And it opened up a level playing field to challenge those in positions of power in academic research or therapy that thought they were the God.

Facebook was not really a gift for me. I already had email and blogging to express myself. In fact, Facebook is democratisation of the Internet taking one step too far. Nowadays, everyone can just post anything on stuttering. Millions of logical fallacies which drive me insane. Even more so, because they are inextricably entangled with many interesting and diverse experiences of people who stutter. As I always say, your experience of stuttering is your experience and true on its own, but your interpretation of your stuttering, i.e. its causes and its treatments, is mostly likely marred with fallacies. Any reasonable message is drowned in the vast amount of messages. It's a bit like at stuttering conferences...

Monday, March 25, 2013

5 minutes on stuttering: Cultural Differences or not?

I am still not happy with the final product. It is much more difficult to speak unprepared without being able to go back and correct your English or fine-tune your message. I am also wondering if the 5 minutes should really be about how to deal with stuttering, and the more science part should be left to the written word.

And apologies to Einar again for mispronouncing his name... I am as bad as Peter Reitzes pronouncing mine! ;-)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

5 minutes on Stuttering: Toastmasters

The video cuts out at the end, because the connection was lost. I wanted to say that getting on stage is always a gamble: if I am fluent, it is a great performance. if I am not, I struggle through the words. Typically, the more I practised the better. One of my next video posts will be about tips for public speaking.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

5 minutes on Stuttering: Is coastal breathing effective?

Patience. I am still not very good at speaking unprepared: I mess up my English at times, and swallow words. It's probably because I spend a lot of resources to come up with a message...

Saturday, March 16, 2013

5 minutes each day on stuttering

Irresponsible marketing by Tony Robbins?

Check out this video (at 4:15), where Tony Robbins claims that he makes someone who stutters fluent after 20 years of stuttering! We have all experienced spontaneous fluency, that goes away very quickly. In my opinion, Tony engages in irresponsible marketing.

Tony is inspirational, in general, but he should stick to change the possible and not the impossible. Tony's mission is to change other people's lives, maybe we as a community should change Tony's life and increase his understanding of stuttering. Stuttering is not a learned behaviour; it is an adaptation of a brain that is prone to jamming due to neurobiological issues.

As he is coming to England with this video in 2013, the BSA might be able to report him to the I-cant-remember-the-name agency for irresponsible marketing. NOTE: Maybe we can find this guy called Waschad (spelling?) and get him to "say" a few words. I doubt he is still fluent.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ousmane's theory on stuttering

Ousmane sent me his theory of stuttering. So I give him here the opportunity for others to get to know his theory. I am sure he would happy if you comment on it.

I did:
"I disagree with your theory. 1) you can still have neurological issues even when speaking fluent when alone. it could be that your system is too sensitive to stress and other demands because it is not optimally developed. 2) some people sometimes stutter when alone and sometimes not. 3) i believe there is a continuum in neurological issue: from severe to mild. 4) speaking on your own is NOT the same as speaking to others, which demands much more resources even if you have no stress."

Here is Ousmane's theory:

  -It’s not the situation itself that generates stress but the perception we have of it. Also, before a stressful situation, there is an automatic interior answer that is not managed by our will. For fluent people, the answer is proportional to the level of stress. If the stress lasts for a certain period of time, that answer will be recorded and served by the

Reddit talks about stuttering

Joe sent me an email: "I'm a moderator at r/stutter on reddit. We're trying to expand our subreddit and turn it into one the go-to places for people to discuss stuttering. We have 218 members right now, but we know there are more out there. We are big fans of your blog and have you linked to our reddit page. If you could help us out we would greatly appreciate it."

Of course, I will do so, even though I kind of support that further traffic on commenting about stuttering goes from my blog to social media sites!

Here is the link:

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Predictions for 2013

StutterTalk has published a discussion between Peter Reitzes and myself. Lots of interesting stuff. One of the interesting things is that, yet again, I say that I set myself the goals to speak slower with pauses, and yet again after a few sentences I speak too fast...

We talked about my predictions for 2012, and what materialized and what didn't. I also made a prediction for 2013, talked about my upcoming book, and more more.