From: Anne Bothe
Time: 5:42:38 PM
Remote Name: 188.8.131.52
Good questions, thanks!
About therapy techniques, such as slow speech or easy onset: My starting point for young children, sometimes as old as age 8 or so, is not to introduce any changes to the manner of speech production that I would then just have to fade back out. One of the things I like very much about the direct feedback approaches that we were studying in this paper is that it just takes advantage of what the children already know how to do that is, we reinforce their nonstuttered speech and encourage them to do that kind of speech instead of stuttering.
Do the children from this program relapse or sound unnatural: The short answer is no. The longer answer is that we are still following some of them, so all I can tell you is that they have not yet relapsed but they haven't all gotten through the 2-year follow-up period yet. And the longer answer about naturalness is that these sorts of treatments don't teach anything unnatural, and the kids sound great.
Your other question is one for a long discussion over a leisurely meal, or for the sort of disagreement and discussion that I find very fun but that some people find very annoying: Do I believe that there is a "cure" for stuttering..... Wow. How about this: I believe that young children can learn to speak in ways that sound normal, natural, and nonstuttered to them, to their parents, to other adults in their lives, and to clinicians, and I believe that this speech can be produced by a child who does not have to think about his speech production at all (and, indeed, who will often not remember why he ever went to Speech Class), and I believe that these children can then go on about the business of growing up and developing their own lives in ways that allow them to function as people who do not stutter. That might be my functional definition of cure: the child acts like and thinks like and believes himself to be a person who does not stutter. Is his body really "cured," or would he show the neurophysiological markers of stuttering or the genetic markers of stuttering, if we ever found such a thing? I don't know. If we could develop a very, very sensitive cognitive measure, could we show that this child at age 15 is somehow different from another child who did not stutter when he was a preschooler? I don't know. Is my functional definition of "cure" possible for all children who stutter? I don't know. I remain optimistic, though, I guess would be my summary of the whole question. Thanks for letting me think about it!