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Casa Futura Technologies gives away MPiStutter app free

Casa Futura Technologies is applying for a $250,000 grant to train
speech-language pathologists (SLPs) to use their MPiStutter and
iParkinsons iPhone apps. If you vote to help Casa Futura Technologies win
this grant, they will give you or your SLP the MPiStutter app free.* It
just takes a minute:

- Go to https://www.missionsmallbusiness.com/.
- Click “Log in & Support.”
- In the “business name” search field enter “Casa Futura”.
- You’ll see “Casa Futura Technologies”. Click the blue “VOTE” button on
the right.

MPiStutter is an iOS (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad) app to support Minimum
Phonated Interval (MPI) stuttering therapy. It analyzes the user’s vocal
fold activity and trains him or her to eliminate too-rapid speech elements
and speak fluently at a normal speaking rate.

*The fine print: You must vote before midnight Saturday, June 30. They are
only giving free apps to SLPs. Consumers can request a free app for their
SLP. Apple limits Casa Futura Technologies to 50 free copies of each app.
If they find a way around this restriction they will give a app free to
everyone who votes. After you vote send an e-mail to
sales@casafuturatech.com requesting MPiStutter and include your ASHA
membership number (or the name and e-mail address of your SLP).

Stuttering and brain plasticity – how learning changes your brain

As we learn more about stuttering, we are seeing increasing evidence that stuttering is related to the workings of the brain. If stuttering proves to be a genetic disorder or a neurological problem related to how the brain processes speech production, many people question what the point is of having therapy?

Once it was believed that the brain was hard wired. People thought that once the brain developed, there was no possibility of making changes. Today neuroscientists believe that this is not true. There have been many studies on brain plasticity, the capacity of the brain to change by developing new connections between neurons resulting in changes of the internal structure of the existing synapses.

We are all born with a specific genetic makeup that determines our tendencies. Musical tendencies, language abilities, handedness, and mathematical ability, among countless others are influenced by our genetic make up. However, when we engage in a specific activity to the point of becoming expert, the areas in your brain that deal with this type of skill have been shown to change.

Other evidence that the processes that produce stuttered speech are not so hard wired that they cannot be changed comes from a lot anecdotal evidence in which people who have once stuttered appear to be naturally fluent speakers and from our clients who report that stuttering is no longer an issue in their life. This is proof that the same person can produce speech differently at different times in his life.

During Dynamic Stuttering Therapy people who stutter learn to use the normal processes of producing speech. They begin therapy thinking that what they do is the only thing they can do, but soon see that it is indeed possible to produce speech in a way that is so very different. If it weren’t possible to change their way of producing speech, we would not see this happen. No matter what the cause of stuttering proves to be, change is possible and treatment can help people who stutter to make the necessary changes.

The Connection Between Speech Anxiety and Stuttering

Most people who stutter believe that anxiety causes stuttering or increases stuttering severity. There is an obvious link between anxiety and stuttering, but, as with most aspects of the condition of stuttering, there is more to it than meets the eye.

Many years ago, I presented a research study at The Third International Congress of Fluency Disorders in which I asked both normally fluent and stuttering speakers to develop language in whole word units instead of syllables while producing only a voice or while talking silently (as if the mute button had been turned on). I then asked them to describe the feeling. Both groups answered that they felt choked, tense, and uncomfortable. The people who stutter said that this way of speaking reminded them of stuttering. The fluent speakers reported that this is not at all the way they speak.

This experiment lends support to what I have observed so often in the clinic. Processing speech in the way that people who stutter do, not only makes speech stuttered, it also leads to feelings of tension and anxiety. People tend to believe that anxiety causes stuttering, or stuttering causes anxiety. However, both anxiety and stuttering are the natural outcomes of faulty speech processing. Over time these two conditions become so linked in the speaker’s mind that any feeling of anxiety will exacerbate faulty processing and, therefore, increase stuttering. In turn, a stuttering incident increases anxiety. This leads to increased faulty processing and, therefore, increased stuttering.

Many people believe that the goal of therapy for stuttering is to reduce anxiety. They believe that if the person who stutters could just relax the stuttering would disappear. While it is true that giving up the effort of trying to get words out fluently, may lead to more automatic processing and thus reduce both stuttering and anxiety, it is asking the impossible to try to feel relaxed when you are still trying to control speech.

One of the big frustrations that people who stutter often encounter is being told to relax so that they won’t stutter. Trying to follow this impossible, though seemingly good advice, only increases anxiety.  I have treated yoga experts and people who meditate daily. They are great at relaxing, but the second they try to control their words, relaxation evaporates.

When clients learn to produce speech automatically, without thinking about words and how to say them, the result is not only flowing speech, it is a feeling of comfort and relaxation. Trying to reduce anxiety may inadvertently lead to better speech processing, but there is a more direct approach. Learning to produce speech automatically and without control directly leads to a decrease in anxiety and stuttering.

Welcome to The Dynamic Stuttering Therapy blog

Welcome to The Dynamic Stuttering Therapy blog. Here I will tell you my views of what stuttering is and the best way to treat it. My journey toward understanding stuttering has been a long one. Like many of you, I’ve hit blind alleys and dead ends as I looked for ways for overcoming stuttering. The first time that I ever had a person who stutters come to me for therapy was over 40 years ago when I first began working as a Speech Clinician. As an undergraduate, I had been taught that stuttering was a problem of personality dynamics. It sounded good, but I had no idea of how to change someone’s personality, so I looked to the textbooks for advice and in the meantime received a Master Degree from Boston University.  I tried everything: stuttering modification, desensitization, airflow, Gestalt therapy, fluency shaping and more. Unfortunately, I did not find that any of these approaches were the solution my clients’ desire to speak normally. During these years I met some people who were devastated because they stuttered. Although, at the time, I did not know how to successfully treat stuttering, I could not accept the common belief that my role as a clinician was to help my clients learn to live with stuttering. I became determined to find a way to help people who stutter speak freely. For the past 20 plus years that has been one of the main priorities in my life.

Today, I am a Board Recognized Specialist in Fluency Disorders. I have treated well over 2000 people who stutter of all ages. I realized many years ago that stuttering had many facets that had to be related. This lead me to look at it as a problem of how the speech production system functions. Through the years, with the help of my clients, researchers, other professionals in many fields, a bit of optimistic stubbornness, and faith, I am happy to say that I have unraveled many of the mysteries related to stuttering. Now when people come to me because they stutter, I do not have to guess what goals they need to achieve. Therapy is not a question of trial and error. I know for a fact that stuttering is treatable, and I can clearly see the cause and effect relationship between how the speech system functions and the ability to make both stuttered and fluent speech.

Today I am able to help people who stutter discover that they are capable of speaking fluently with ease and comfort.  I have the joy of watching so many of my clients gain confidence and enjoy speaking. I know I am looking at stuttering from a different perspective than most people. It is the perspective you will read about on my blog. I think you will find it enlightening. I look forward to your comments and hope you will enjoy mine.

An interview with Communication Therapy Institute Director Barbara Dahm