Speech Disfluency in Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Re: Stuttering vs. Echolalia

From: Vivian Sisskin
Date: 14 Oct 2007
Time: 22:12:19 -0500
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Kristina, Your question reminds me of a broader notion, when is disfluency considered stuttering? I suppose you would find a variety of responses from those who research and treat stuttering. I tend to see “stuttering” as a disorder of communication while “disfluency” (or “dysfluency”) as a speech symptom or characteristic. This comes up often for me in distinguishing children who stutter from those who present with disfluency due to language formulation difficulties. A fair amount of disfluency is seen among children with severe language impairment [see: Boscolo, B., Bernstein Ratner, N. & Rescorla, L. (2002). Fluency characteristics of children with a history of specific expressive language impairment (SLI-E). American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 11, 41-49], or cluttering. In these cases, we might see both stutter-like disfluencies (part- and whole-word repetition, prolongation, blocks) as well as normal disfluencies (phrase repetition, interjection, revision). It is often a challenge to determine priorities for treatment in these cases as well. In several cases (both with and without ASD), I have focused on expressive language targets with positive outcomes in the area of fluency. Of course, it is hard to say what exactly was responsible for the reduction in disfluency, since these were ongoing therapy cases. I have also noted some positive results by modeling fluency targets in the context of communication training. While good data was collected, the treatment was not as carefully controlled as it would have been for research.

Last changed: 10/22/07