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University of Iowa News Release

June 20, 2005

Workshop Brings Together International Clinicians On Stuttering

Regardless of what language they speak, people who stutter can use some of the same strategies to learn to speak more fluently. Likewise, speech pathologists worldwide, as they seek to understand and improve treatments for the condition, have much to share with each other.

Speech language pathologists who want to specialize in stuttering will have the opportunity to interact from June 20 to July 1 during the 16th annual international "Stuttering Therapy: Workshop for Specialists," which will be held at the University of Iowa. The event is cosponsored by the Stuttering Foundation of America and the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Twenty clinicians from countries such as Canada, Croatia, Italy, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand and Turkey, as well as the United States, were invited to apply to the Stuttering Foundation to participate in the event, said Tricia Zebrowski, Ph.D., UI associate professor of speech pathology and workshop director.

"Those who are selected to participate already have extensive professional experience and are associated with innovative approaches. Each participant will speak about therapy programs in their home state or country, to give the group a sense of practice around the globe," Zebrowski said.

"Stuttering therapy in the United States is advanced compared to many countries. However, we still have much to share across languages and cultures," she added.

This is the second year that the UI has hosted the workshop, which is funded entirely by the Stuttering Foundation. Additional presentations, including two by featured lecturers, will focus on diagnosis and treatment of stuttering, as well as research findings.

Guest speaker Peter Ramig, Ph.D., professor of speech, language and hearing sciences at the University of Colorado at Boulder, will talk about the SpeechEasy. This in-the-ear device provides altered feedback to people who stutter and helps them speak more fluently.

A second guest speaker, Edward Conture, Ph.D., professor of hearing and speech sciences at Vanderbilt University, will discuss research on the interface between language, temperament and stuttering in young children.

Zebrowksi and colleague Toni Cilek, UI associate (clinical) professor of speech pathology and audiology, will provide instruction over the two-week period. They will present contemporary therapeutic approaches for stuttering across the lifespan. A portion of the workshop will focus on unassisted recovery from stuttering in early childhood.

"The majority of young children who start to stutter between the ages of 2 and 4 will recover within six to 36 months without therapy," Zebrowski said. "Research at the University of Iowa and University of Illinois is uncovering risk factors for either recovery or persistence of stuttering. These findings will allow clinicians to predict which children will 'outgrow' stuttering and which children will more likely need therapy."

Worldwide, nearly 4 percent of the population experiences stuttering at some point in their lives. At any given time, about 1 percent of people stutter.

The Stuttering Foundation estimates that more than three million Americans stutter. While there are no miracle cures, a qualified speech clinician can help children and adults make significant progress toward speaking fluently. A recent example is Bill Walton, the former basketball star who now is a sports commentator.

"Since 1985, we have conducted these intensive workshops in order to increase the pool of speech-language pathologists who have been trained in the latest techniques for the treatment of stuttering," said Jane Fraser, president of the Stuttering Foundation. Fraser will be among the conference presenters.

"Although the foundation provides full scholarships, many of the experts give up their vacations or part of their income to attend. Our task is to provide instruction and a forum where they can hone their skills," Zebrowski added.

The Stuttering Foundation is a non-profit organization that has been helping those who stutter since 1947. For more information, the public may call 1-800-992-9392 or visit www.stutteringhelp.org.

In addition to supporting the workshop, the foundation has provided support to the UI Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology to fund graduate student assistantships and laboratory and clinical equipment.

For more information about speech pathology clinical services at the UI, visit http://www.shc.uiowa.edu/ or call 319-335-8736.

NOTE: This story includes information from a news release provided by the Stuttering Foundation.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5137 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 5224-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: Becky Soglin, 319 335-6660 becky-soglin@uiowa.edu

PHOTOS: contact Becky Soglin at becky-soglin@uiowa.edu