Speech Dysfluency

Published November 2016 7 lectures
Dr. Sharon Millard
The Michael Palin Centre for Stammering Children, UK

The most frequently encountered type of dysfluency is developmental stuttering. Stuttering is a complex disorder which has both overt and covert characteristics and there is increasing emphasis on the provision of integrated approaches which address both types of characteristic. Around the world this is managed differently, with some countries providing... read moredirect speech management programmes through Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs), with the management of cognitive and affective components largely being the remit of psychologists. However, in many countries it is the SLT who would provide support in both areas. There is evidence in the literature that both student and qualified speech and language therapists lack confidence in working with this client group, which makes up 1% of the population. In children, the incidence is upwards of 5% and could be as high as 11%. Potentially therefore there are high numbers of children and adults who would benefit from improved access to effective and evidence based interventions, delivered by competent and educated professionals.

There have been considerable research advances in recent years, which have contributed to our knowledge of the nature and treatment of developmental stuttering. We now have the technology to examine the brain structure and functioning in young children and information about the differences between children who stutter compared to normally fluent children is emerging, with correlates to persistence and recovery. We are also closer to understanding the genetic influences in developmental stuttering. Differing methods and a lack of replication has meant that there are still no robust answers, but this is an area which is rapidly developing. Understanding the causes of stuttering and the multifactorial influences on a vulnerable system, will help us to provide more effective therapy both now and in the future.

There are a number of lesser well known disorders of fluency, including cluttering and acquired stuttering. There remains little experimental research into these types of dysfluency but we have seen increased interest in these disorders, along with improved methods of differential diagnosis and case study reports of intervention.
The aim of these sessions is to provide students, researchers and clinicians with more detailed information and advanced insight into the current research, theories and approaches to management in relation to disorders of fluency. While aimed at both undergraduate and post graduate students, there is an assumption that students will have a basic knowledge of what stuttering is with regard to overt and covert characteristics. These sessions are intended to augment basic lectures that may have been received as part of an undergraduate programme, to extend and add depth. They provide a unique opportunity to hear leaders in the field presenting their research and perspectives.