Why We Must Know More

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Re: Why We Must Know More

From: Darrell Dodge
Date: 22 Oct 2004
Time: 23:14:29 -0500
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Hi Katie: I think that your question would have to be answered in a way that recognizes differences in stuttering development, including the age of the stutterer and how long he/she has been stuttering. If you're talking about kids who may be "beginning" or even "borderline" stutterers, who lack a significant amount of negative conditioning, the stuttering may not *have* to be confronted in the way it would with a teen or an adult. Bear in mind that when fluency shaping is integrated with MSI, it *does* involve a certain degree of confrontation. Using fluency shaping techniques can be scary for kids when they're using words on which they are often dysfluent. Just talking at all can be very confrontational. After a while, it becomes fun, which speech is supposed to be. With regard to your question "can stuttering be learned and become permanent?" there are a lot of clinicians (including us) who believe that classical and instrumental conditioning is key to the development of many "core" stuttering behaviors, particularly their tension and rapidity, and that the actual disruption of fluency is an internal, neurological reaction to communication breakdown and threat that becomes associated with these behaviors through this conditioning. As time goes on, more and more escape and forcing behaviors and situational experiences become associated in a conditioned network. These then serve as triggers to generate or reinforce the internal disruption, which the stutterer perceives as a loss of control or an inability to proceed with speech. Such fear conditioning in childhood becomes virtually permanent in several respects if it goes on for many months (stuttering research suggests 18 or more). And the importance of an extended period of early childhood conditioning squares with recent fear research in experimental psychology. We do know that the conditioning associated with these triggers can be extinguished to a greater or lesser extent, even though they may not be completed erased (and this also shows a confluence of experience with stuttering recovery and recent experimental research in other fields). We think that the Integrated Approach using a combination of FSI, MSI, and associated work on emotions, situational factors, and a holistic approach that considers the entire person is the best way to do that in a way that enables the person to be a successful and natural communicator. Thanks for your questions. - Darrell

Last changed: 02/21/07