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Presymposium workshop

Assessment and Treatment of Stuttering: Translating Theory to Practice

Courtney T. Byrd is an Associate Professor at The University of Texas at Austin. She received her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. In 2006, upon completion of two years as an NIH Post-Doctoral Fellow, she joined the faculty in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Her research interests include the study of speech-language contributions to childhood stuttering and the development of innovative treatment and clinical training tools. Her research laboratory received an endowment in 2012 and was renamed the Dr. Jennifer and Emanuel Bodner Developmental Stuttering Laboratory.

In 2014, the Michael and Tami Lang Stuttering Institute was established as a distinct endowed institute dedicated to excellence in clinical research for which Dr. Byrd serves as the founding Director. Dr. Byrd has published her research in a variety of journals including but not limited to JFD, JCD, LSHSS, AJSLP, and JSLHR. She has also published several book chapters and presented her research nationally and internationally.

The purpose of this workshop course is two-fold. Clinicians commonly report difficulty determining whether the disfluencies produced by their client are indicative of stuttering or unique to cluttering, autism, language impairment or, second language learning. The initial section of this workshop will focus on increasing clinician understanding of the disfluent speech of clinical and non-clinical populations of person who do not stutter. Yet another challenge reported by clinicians is not knowing how to best help their clients successfully navigate their academic and employment settings. The second section of this workshop will focus on targeting communication effectiveness in a manner that will promote measurements of success for persons who stutter (both children and adults) that move beyond decreases in stuttered speech to increases in distinct communication competencies.
Part I: Increasing understanding of the disfluent speech of clinical and non-clinical populations of persons who do not stutter
In our clinical decision making process, the presence of distinctive features unique to specific speech and/or language disorders reduce the complexity of our assessments and presumably increase the reliability and validity, but what happens when those features appear to overlap? For example, the type and frequency of speech disfluencies typically fluent bilinguals produce are in many cases higher than what has been reported to be indicative of stuttering in monolingual English speakers. Similarly, both monolingual and bilingual children with language impairment produce atypically high rates of speech disfluencies. Children who clutter and children with autism also produce disfluent speech behaviors that are in some ways unique to their respective disorders but in others comparable to what is classically considered to be stuttering-like in nature. The purpose of the present seminar is to enhance differential diagnosis of stuttering particularly with regard to those cases wherein clinicians may be misled by similarities in the speech behaviors produced. Participants will learn key differentiating characteristics, areas of overlap, along with other critical assessment considerations that will enhance clinician competence and confidence in their evaluation of speakers for whom there may be an increased risk for mis-identification of stuttering.
Part II: Enhancing the ability of persons who stutter to successfully navigate academic and employment settings.
The vast majority of education curriculum (including elementary, secondary and university) places significant academic emphasis on the acquisition and continued development of public speaking skills. For children and adults who stutter, this emphasis can cause internal as well as external conflict with the most obvious concern being the requirement for fluency as one of the fundamental competencies for public speaking. School age children and adults who stutter who participate in the Lang Stuttering Institute treatment program proceed through a variety of specialized programs. To enhance their communication effectiveness, they complete a series of public speaking formats (including but not limited to formal speeches, debates, interviews) and in each one they focus on the development of one of the aforementioned seven critical competencies. After they have progressed through these initial steps, they then complete more advanced public speaking exercises wherein all competencies are measured simultaneously. Along with their progress towards the acquisition of these competencies, we also include a competency with respect to use of voluntary stuttering, development of a self-disclosure statement, and the ability to discuss stuttering in an objective, informative manner. All participants are required to complete self-evaluations with regard to each competency and specific to their comfort level with stuttering and their overall confidence in their communication skills. Once they have achieved self, peer, and teacher evaluations of excellence and self-evaluations of high confidence in their communication skills and comfort with stuttering, they are awarded a formal certification of communication excellence and a mentorship role in the program. One of the primary goals of this workshop will be to review core competencies for the development of communication excellence in persons who stutter and the assessment tools used to evaluate acquisition for purposes of use by other clinicians.

Learning outcomes:

Participants will learn a) the disfluent speech behaviors that overlap across clinical and typical speakers of more than one language, b) the key differentiating speech and language behaviors that distinguish clinical and typical speakers of more than one language, c) additional critical assessment considerations that will facilitate differential diagnosis of speakers for whom there may be an increased risk for mis-identification of stuttering, d) how to systematically target communication excellence, e) how to employ voluntary stuttering in a manner that will facilitate maximum client benefit, and f) how to employ self-disclosure in a manner that will facilitate maximum client benefit.