About the presenter: Nancy Ribbler, M.A, CCC-SLP, BRS-FD is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist. She has worked in speech pathology for twenty-nine years. She is a full-time school-based SLP in Broward County School District in South Florida and also has a private practice focusing on working with children and adults who stutter. Nancy served on the SIG4 Steering Committee for Fluency Disorders and was the Liaison for the Schools Task Force on Fluency. She has published articles on stuttering and presented on stuttering disorders at national, state and local levels. Nancy currently serves on the Stuttering Board in Fluency Disorders and reviews credentials and portfolios of individuals applying for Board Recognition in Fluency Disorders.

You can post Questions/comments about the following paper to the author before October 22, 2012.

Stocker Probe for Fluency: Useful tool for increasing language complexity

by Nancy Ribbler
from Ohio, USA

Whatever happened to The Stocker Probe? It was one of my favorite assessment tools to use in my school-based practice. Not only was it engaging for school-age children, but also was a valuable tool when assessing fluency breakdown related to language complexity. In fact, during our 1999-2000 fluency initiative in Broward Country School District, we purchased several Stocker Probes for our clinicians. During school district fluency trainings, I received positive feedback about The Stocker Probe. Clinicians shared that the manipulatives were motivating for school age children. They liked the ease of administration and scoring and found it helpful in developing IEP goals. However, when SLPs in my district wanted to reorder protocols, they couldn't find the test listed with any publishing company. In our school district, SLPs need to use original protocols in formal assessment procedures. After doing a little research, I contacted one of the authors, Bob Goldfarb. I learned that his co-author Beatrice Stocker had passed away, and the publisher allowed the Stocker Probe to go out of print -- with no plans to reprint.

For those of us who valued this tool for assessing fluency breakdown with increased language complexity, this news was a big disappointment. The Stocker Probe technique was based on the Demands and Capacities (DC) Model (Starkweather, 1987; Starkweather, Gottwald and Halford, 1990). Adams described the premise of the DC model as it relates to fluency breakdown "when environmental and/or self-imposed demands exceed the speaker's cognitive, environmental and/or emotional capacities for responding" (Adams, 1990, pages 136-137). The Stocker Probe was designed with this model in mind and had five Levels of Demands:

  1. Either-or-question ("Is it hard or soft?").
  2. Simple "WH" question eliciting name of common object ("What is it?").
  3. More 'creative' WH" question eliciting prepositional phrase ("Where would you keep one?").
  4. Descriptive question eliciting attributes ("Tell me everything you know about it").
  5. Open-ended, creative response ("Make up a story about it").
The hierarchy of tasks can be very helpful in assessing fluency breakdown. Clinicians who still have it on their bookshelf can use the strategies (using manipulatives and questions increasing in level of language demand) as an informal tool in diagnostic therapy to gauge how language complexity impacts fluency. The hierarchy of language complexity is also helpful in developing IEP goals and therapy materials. On behalf of the clinicians who have benefited from using The Stocker Probe, we extend a sincere thank you to Beatrice Stocker and Bob Goldfarb for developing this valuable tool. Although The Stocker Probe is out of print, we can still benefit from its use as an informal diagnostic and therapy tool to help us determine the impact of language complexity on fluency and manipulate it appropriately in treatment.


Adams, M.R. The demands and capacities model: I. Theoretical elaborations. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 1990, 15, 135-141.

Starkweather, C.W. Fluency and stuttering. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1987.

Starkweather, C.W., Gottwald, S.R., and Halfond, M.M. Stuttering prevention: A clinical method. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1990.

Stocker, B., Goldfarb, R. The Stocker Probe for Fluency and Language. Vero Beach, FL: Speech Bin, Inc. 1995.

You can post Questions/comments about the above paper to the authors before October 22, 2012.

SUBMITTED: August 20, 2012
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