About the presenter: Florence L. Myers is Professor at Adelphi University, Garden City, New York. She has published widely in the areas of cluttering and stuttering. Her current interests include the nature of cluttering and how it relates to stuttering, as well as treatment approaches to cluttering. She was co-chair of the executive committee to organize the First International Conference on Cluttering held in Bulgaria, May 12-14, 2007.
About the presenter: Peter Kissagizlis is from East Yorkshire in the north of the UK. He worked as a motor mechanic for many years and, an avid boater himself, also worked as a marina lock keeper for British Waterways in Hull until 2000. Now retired, Peter devotes a lot of time to voluntary work. He is chair of consumer issues for the International Cluttering Association and secretary of the Hull & East Yorkshire Stammerers self help group which is associated with the British Stammering Association. Peter is a founder member of the local support group and has built and maintains the web site: www.speakingout.org.uk He also writes the regular newsletter.

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to the author before October 22, 2007.

Putting Cluttering on the World Map: Formation of the International Cluttering Association (ICA)

by Florence Myers and Peter Kissagizlis
from New York, USA and England, UK

We realize that this online conference deals primarily with stuttering, so a big "thank you" to Judy Kuster for allowing some space to be devoted to cluttering.

A very exciting event took place May 2007 in Katarino, Bulgaria, an idyllic resort nestled in the foothills of the Rila and Pirin Mountains in southwest Bulgaria. Over the course of three days, approximately sixty delegates from eighteen countries congregated at the First International Conference on Cluttering (FICC). This was a landmark conference. Delegates included clinicians, those who clutter, as well as academicians interested in the theoretical bases of and research on cluttering. From this conference came the genesis of the International Cluttering Association (ICA). The purpose of this article is to provide background on why the ICA was formed and why it is so important.

Since an organization has been formed to learn about cluttering, it stands to reason that we should try to define cluttering. This is easier said than done. Part of the challenge of arriving at a definition is intrinsic to the disorder itself, as it is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon. One of the key reasons for development of the ICA was to bring together consumers, researchers and clinicians to work on this critical issue of definition. For now, one working definition--subject to revision as we learn more about it--is as follows:

Cluttering is a fluency disorder characterized by a rate that is perceived to be abnormally rapid, irregular, or both for the speaker (although measured syllable rates may not exceed normal limits). These rate abnormalities further are manifest in one or more of the following symptoms: (a) an excessive number of disfluencies, the majority of which are not typical of people who stutter; (b) the frequent placement of pauses and use of prosodic patterns that do not conform to syntactic and semantic constraints; and (c) inappropriate (usually excessive) degrees of coarticulation among sounds, especially in multisyllabic words (St Louis, Myers, Bakker, Raphael , 2007)

One often hears the exclamation "It's about time!" This is an apt remark as we think about the formation of ICA. Cluttering has largely been a step-child in the family of fluency disorders, overshadowed by professionals' and the media's interest in stuttering. But the fact remains that clinicians must treat those who clutter, and typically receive only one hundred minutes or less of instruction on this topic (Scaler Scott, Grossman & Tetnowski, 2007). Half a dozen organizations exist for stuttering but none until now for cluttering. These factors have the potential to leave clinicians not only ill-prepared to treat clients who clutter but also with few resources to turn to in obtaining further information about the disorder. This neglect of cluttering has existed in the United States more so than in Europe. To try to remedy this situation, a small group of professionals in the States (including K. Bakker, M. Burnett, D. Daly, L. Raphael, K. St. Louis, and F. Myers) have spent upwards of two decades trying to put cluttering on the map through a book, presentations, chapters in texts, and journal articles. More recently, the Stuttering Foundation commissioned a DVD entitled Cluttering (Myers and St. Louis, 2007), which premiered in Bulgaria. The effort to put cluttering on the world map culminated in the conference in May, with the able help and support of Professors Dobrinka Georgieva and Katya Dionissieva of South-West University "Neofit Rilski," Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. Proceedings based on this conference, containing 4-5 page summaries of the presentations, are still in development. Information regarding the availability of these proceedings will be announced through the website of the ICA (see below for the URL).

Delegates to the conference indeed experienced with their own eyes and ears the momentum that was built by the last day of the conference, culminating in the formation of ICA. "It IS about time...that cluttering be recognized!" While we acknowledged the logistic considerations in the formation of this international association, the overriding spirit was one of enthusiasm to usher in the first-ever organization devoted to cluttering. At the invitation of the conference Program Committee, Kathy Scaler Scott volunteered to convene the first meeting of the new organization at the conference and has been its enthusiastic and able coordinator since that inaugural event. The mission of ICA is to increase awareness of and knowledge about cluttering, so that effective treatment can be developed. The organization is to be international in membership, to include consumers and their families, speech-language pathologists, researchers, students, and interested members of the general public. A website is being developed to provide information about the nature of cluttering, its diagnosis and treatment, as well as resources for consumers and families.

On behalf of its organizers, we invite you to join the International Cluttering Association. Although ICA is only a few months old, we already have a large number of members. The ICA currently has an executive committee, with chairs representing consumers, clinical and research interests, and international representatives from ten countries working to increase awareness at the international level. Our membership and leadership continue to grow almost daily.

Peter Kissagizlis has consented to help the world understand cluttering by sharing some of his personal story along with a short movie of his speaking and samples of his handwriting and "unguarded" typing.

  • A sample of Peter's speaking

    An interview with Peter, videotaped by Tom Kuster in Razlog, Bulgaria, May 2007

  • A sample of Peter's handwriting:

  • A sample of Peter's "unguarded" typing, telling some of his personal story:

    Check out the new ICA website (currently being developed by our website committee, chaired by Klaas Bakker) at http://associations.missouristate.edu/ICA/. Another important channel of communication regarding cluttering is a Yahoo self-help group started by Joseph Dewey - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cluttering/. Additional information regarding cluttering may also be obtained from the Stuttering Homepage (http://www.stutteringhomepage.com). These resources serve as invaluable resources for all who are interested in cluttering.

    ICA: It's about time!

    Welcome aboard!


    Myers, F. L., & St. Louis, K. O. (2007). Cluttering. (DVD) Nashville, TN: The Stuttering Foundation.

    Scaler Scott, K., Grossman, H. L., & Tetnowski, J. A. (in press). A survey of cluttering instruction in fluency courses. Proceedings of the First World Conference on Cluttering. Razlog, Bulgaria.

    St. Louis, K. O., Myers, F. L., Bakker, K., & Raphael, L. J. (2007). Understanding and treating cluttering. In E. G. Conture & R. F. Curlee (Eds.) Stuttering and related disorders of fluency, 3rd ed. (pp. 297-325). NY: Thieme.

    You can post Questions/comments about the above paper to the author before October 22, 2007.

    September 18, 2007
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