Stuttering Isn’t a Mystery – Laying One Myth to Rest

Stuttering Isn’t a Mystery – Laying One Myth to Rest

isa stuttering conference, 2013, netherlandsOnly 1 week to go before the 10th ISA World Congress for People who Stutter that is going to be held in the Netherlands. It’s going to be the largest International stuttering event of the year! At least that is what I was told. I’m really excited, because it is the first time that I will be at this conference. I’m really looking forward to being there and meeting people whom I don’t yet know and seeing again many of my friends in the stuttering community.

The theme of the conference is “Breaking Taboos Around Stuttering”. The talk I am planning to give is going to help in that regard. I promised to talk about 10 Important Things You Should Know about Stuttering. I wish I had made it at least 15, because there are so many misunderstood aspects of stuttering that I have come to see in a different light over the past quarter of a century working with people who stutter. It’s hard to choose which ones to leave out. I’m sure there will be so many interesting talks and presentations. I will try to share some of the highlights and my thoughts with all of you.

Before the conference even begins, I am going to break one taboo here and now. In the press release put out by conference organizers, they wrote:

“To a large extent stuttering is still a mystery and therefore definitive treatment beneficial for everybody is still not available.  We are looking for both the cause and the cure, but also for ways to deal with stuttering as long as there is no scientific explanation for the problem.”

It might not be very acceptable for me to say so, but I disagree with this statement. I do see that there is a definitive treatment that is beneficial for anyone who stutters. Of course, the absolute benefit does depend on variables within the framework of therapy, such as the experience and ability of the clinician and the active participation of the client. However, the principles when followed of Dynamic Stuttering Therapy are universally beneficial.

I do agree that we don’t yet know the cause of stuttering, but I do think that there is a scientifically valid theory. It states that stuttering is one symptom of a malfunctioning dynamic speech production system that includes elements of speech-language planning and production. System malfunction can cause physical and mental tension that makes speech production an effortful task. The system is driven by thoughts, attitudes and learned responses. I have been defining stuttering this way since 1993. Interestingly, a lot of the research that has followed supports this theory.

In addition we don’t cure stuttering, but we can do more than deal with stuttering. People who stutter can actually change the way their system functions so that the malfunction becomes normal function.

I hope to be able to discuss my dissenting beliefs with many of you at the conference or online.