Bruce Preston Ryan

January 19, 1932 - July 26, 2014

Bruce was born on January 19, 1932 in Compton, California and grew up in south west Los Angeles. He stuttered as a child, received speech therapy and became a fluent speaker. His family moved to Oregon after he graduated from Manual Arts High School and earned an AA degree. He completed his Bachelors' degree in Education and taught 5th grade in Ashland, OR.

Remembering how difficult talking was as a child who stuttered, Bruce decided to pursue a career in Speech Pathology so he could help other people who stuttered. He earned a master's degree at Western Michigan University, and a PhD at The University of Pittsburg. He became interested in Skinner's Operant Behavior theory as a measurable way to improve speech fluency.

Bruce taught university students to be knowledgeable and effective speech and language pathologists at Eastern Oregon College, University of Oregon, and California State University Long Beach (where he is listed as Bruce Ryan (1978) Professor Emeritus, 1997 Communicative Disorders). He conducted research and designed therapy procedures in the areas of stuttering, language, and speech articulation, at Behavioral Sciences Institute, Monterey, CA, and Easter Seal Rehabilitation Center of Eastern Fairfield, CT. He published 20+ articles, 3 books, with 5 of 9 chapters finished for the 4th unpublished book. He was Professor Emeritus at California State University Long Beach, and was awarded "Fellow" of the American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association.

Bruce died from congestive heart failure on July 26, 2014, in Long Beach, CA. Bruce devoted his life to helping people who stutter become fluent speakers. He had asked that his epitaph be, "He Tried."

His Professional Contribution

In 2006, Dr. Ryan presented information at a conference and asked me to include the following handout from his presentation on The Stuttering Home Page. It is provided below deleting the request for information to participate in a study he was conducting.

Gradual Increase in Length and Complexity of Utterance (GILCU)

by Bruce Ryan

The Gradual Increase in Length and Complexity of Utterance or (GILCU) (Ryan, 2001, pp. 114-121; Ryan & Van Kirk, 1978) is one of the three evidence-based treatment programs which has received recognition as a well-researched evidence-based treatment in at least seven different meta-analyses or reviews of treatment efficacy in stuttering (Brutten, 1993; Bothe, 2002; Bothe, et al., 2003; Conture, 1996; Cordes, 1998; Davidow, Crowe, & Bothe, 2004; Ryan, 2001; Thomas & Howell, 2001). Prolonged speech and the Lidcombe Program are the other two.

GILCU is a 56-step establishment (in-clinic) program starting with reading one word fluently and ending with conversing for 5 minutes with no stuttering. It is based on the principles of operant conditioning (Skinner, 1953). There are also transfer (extra-clinic generalization of fluency to outside environments) and maintenance (performance of fluent speech over time) and follow-up phases.

Evidence for this program has been collected in single-subject designs (e.g., Ryan, 1971, 1974). When a number of these studies had been completed, prospective randomized group designs were used to compare, first, four programs (Ryan & Ryan, 1983) and then later, two programs (GILCU and Prolongation) (Ryan & Ryan 1995). Finally, data (absent only control groups, Ryan, 2001 pp, 272-273) on 208 clients (8 different studies, including the above-cited studies) from the USA and two other countries will be found in Ryan (2001, pp. 118, 122).


Bothe, A. (2002). Speech-modification approaches to stuttering treatment in schools. In J. S. Yaruss (Ed.), Facing the challenge of treating stuttering, Part 1: Selecting Goals and strategies for success. Seminars in Speech and Language, 23, 181-186.

Bothe, A., Davidow, J., Ingham, R., Crowe, B, Bramlett, R., Levy, J., Taylor, K. (2003, November). Systematic Review of Stuttering Literature. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Speech- Language Association meeting, Chicago, IL.

Brutten, G. (Ed.) (1993). Proceedings of the NIDCD Workshop on Treatment Efficacy Research in Stuttering, September 21-22, 1992 [Special Issue]. Journal of fluency Disorders. 18, 121-361.

Conture, E. (1996). Toward efficacy: Stuttering. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 39, S18-S26.

Cordes, A. (1998). Current status of the stuttering treatment literature. In A Cordes & R. Ingham (Eds.) Treatment efficacy for stuttering: A search for empirical bases (pp.117-144). San Diego, Ca: Singular.

Davidow, J., Crowe, B., Crowne, T., & Bothe, A. (2004). "Gradual increase in Length and Complexity of Utterance" and "Extended Length of Utterance" treatment programs for stuttering: Assessing the implications of strong, but limited evidence. In A. Bothe (Ed.), Evidence-based treatment of stuttering: Empirical bases and clinical applications. (201-230). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publisher.

Ingham, J. (2003), Evdence-based treatment of stuttering: I. Definition and application. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 28, 197-207.

Ingham, R. Kilgo, M., Ingham, J., Moglia, R., Belknap, H., & Sanchez, T. (2001). Evaluation of a stuttering treatment based on reduction of short phonation intervals. Journal of Speech, Language, and HearingResearch, 44, 1229-1244.

Onslow, M., Costa, L., & Rue, S. (1990). Direct early intervention with stuttering: Some preliminary data. Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, 55, 405-416.

Ryan, B (1971). Operant procedures applied to stuttering therapy for children. Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, 36, 264-280.

Ryan, B. (1974). Programmed stuttering therapy for children and adults. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

Ryan, B. (2001). Programmed stuttering therapy for children and adults (2ND Ed). Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.

Ryan, B. & Ryan, B. (1983). Programmed stuttering therapy for children: Comparison of four establishment programs. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 8, 291-321.

Ryan, B. & Ryan, B. (1995). Programmed stuttering treatment for children: Comparison of two establishment programs through transfer, maintenance, and follow-up. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 38, 61-75.

Ryan, B. & Van Kirk (1978). Monterey Fluency Program. Monterey, CA: Behavioral Sciences Institute.

Sackett, D.L. (1998). Evidence-based medicine. SPINE, 23, 1085-1086.

Skinner, B. F. (1953). The science of human behavior. New York, NY: MacMillan. Thomas, C. & Howell, T. (2001). Assessing efficacy of stuttering treatments. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 26, 311-333.

Bruce P. Ryan, Ph.D.
Communicative Disorders Department 305
California State University, Long Beach

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