Have Disfluency-Type Measures Contributed to the Understanding and Treatment of Developmental Stuttering? Purpose: This article critically reviews evidence to determine whether the use of disfluency typologies, such as syllable repetitions or prolongations, has assisted the understanding or treatment of developmental stuttering. Consideration is given to whether there is a need for a fundamental shift in the basis for constructing measures of stuttering ... Viewpoint
Viewpoint  |   November 01, 2005
Have Disfluency-Type Measures Contributed to the Understanding and Treatment of Developmental Stuttering?
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jóhanna Einarsdóttir
    University of Iceland, Reykjavik
  • Roger J. Ingham
    University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Contact author: Roger J. Ingham, Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106.
    Contact author: Roger J. Ingham, Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106.×
  • Corresponding author: E-mail: rjingham@speech.ucsb.edu
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Fluency Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Viewpoint
Viewpoint   |   November 01, 2005
Have Disfluency-Type Measures Contributed to the Understanding and Treatment of Developmental Stuttering?
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2005, Vol. 14, 260-273. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2005/026)
History: Received October 26, 2004 , Accepted April 19, 2005
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, November 2005, Vol. 14, 260-273. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2005/026)
History: Received October 26, 2004; Accepted April 19, 2005
Web of Science® Times Cited: 17

Purpose: This article critically reviews evidence to determine whether the use of disfluency typologies, such as syllable repetitions or prolongations, has assisted the understanding or treatment of developmental stuttering. Consideration is given to whether there is a need for a fundamental shift in the basis for constructing measures of stuttering behavior.

Method: The history of using specific types of disfluencies to assess stuttering, including more recent developments such as counts of stuttering-like disfluencies, is reviewed. The focus is on studies that have investigated the validity and reliability of these perceptually based assessment methods.

Conclusion: The evidence from use of disfluency-type measures shows that the behavioral difference between stuttering and normally fluent speakers is solely related to the amount of observable stuttering; the differences are only partially realized within disfluency-type measures. Indeed, because disfluency-type measures show poor reliability and conflate stuttered and nonstuttered speech, they have only limited heuristic value for research and provide no obvious benefits for clinicians. At best, they should be regarded as imprecise descriptors of observable stuttering and not a fundamental measure of stuttering. A recommended solution to the problematic history of verbal-based definitions of stuttering behavior is continued development and investigation of exemplar-based definition and measurement.

Acknowledgments
This article was prepared as part of the requirements for the first author’s doctoral program at the University of Iceland and while visiting the University of California, Santa Barbara, during 2004. Special thanks are due to Dr. Anne Bothe for her very helpful comments and editing.
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