2017 NSA Research Symposium – Stuttering and Quality of Life

  • Rick Arenas, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor, Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of New Mexico

Contextual Variability of Stuttering: Its impact on quality of life and how anticipation may be playing a role

The anticipation of stuttering is a developmentally acquired “sense” that drives avoidance behaviors and leads to an increased risk of social anxiety, both of which can impact quality of life.  Anticipation has also historically played an important role in many theories of the moment or instance of stuttering.  During this talk, a framework of stuttering will be presented that proposes biologically plausible mechanisms that may play a role in modulating the likelihood of stuttering based on factors like anticipation.  Clinical implications of the importance of addressing anticipation during therapy will also be discussed.

Rick Arenas is an Assistant Professor at the University of New Mexico.  He received a Ph.D. in Speech and Hearing Science from the University of Iowa.  His primary research interest is the contextual variability of stuttering: Why is it that stuttering occurs consistently more frequently in particular contexts?  His research aims to understand the biological mechanisms that underlie this variability and to learn how this develops over time.  The overall goal is to translate research findings in to more effective treatments for stuttering in order to lessen its social and emotional impacts.

  • Michael Boyle, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
    Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Montclair State University

Public stigma and stuttering: Improving attitudes through advocacy

Many people who stutter face negative attitudes and behaviors from the public. These negative societal reactions represent environmental barriers to communicative participation for individuals who stutter. This presentation will include (a) information on the public stigma related to stuttering and its relevance for both professionals and advocates, (b) a review of different approaches, agendas, and outcomes for challenging the public stigma of stuttering, (c) a discussion of recent research comparing the effects of protest, education, and contact approaches for stigma reduction, and (d) recommendations for how speech-language pathologists and advocates can work to improve public attitudes about stuttering.

Michael P. Boyle, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is an Assistant Professor, and Director of the Fluency Disorders Laboratory, in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Montclair State University. Dr. Boyle is a clinically certified speech-language pathologist, teacher, and active researcher focusing on social and psychological aspects of stuttering, including stigma and empowerment. He has published numerous articles and book chapters in the area of stuttering, and presented his research at local, national, and international conferences. Dr. Boyle has received funding from the National Stuttering Association to investigate the effects of various public stigma reduction strategies for people who stutter.

  • Jamie Cohen, Psy.D
    Psychologist, University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center

Coping with chronic conditions: Insights gleaned from the fields of clinical health psychology and psycho-oncology

There are a number of challenges involved with living with chronic conditions, many of which may differ from those challenges commonly involved with living with conditions with more acute courses of care. The field of clinical psychology has investigated the efficacy of various theoretical frameworks and approaches to the management of these unique challenges of chronic, life-impacting conditions, including, but not limited to, chronic pain, diabetes, cardiac conditions, HIV, and cancer. This presentation will provide an overview of several theoretical frameworks, including cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and acceptance and commitment therapy, as they may apply to fostering adaptive coping and improved quality of life in the context of chronic conditions.

Jamie Alexis Cohen is a clinical psychologist with the Psycho-Oncology service at the Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California-San Francisco. She earned her Psy.D. from the PGSP-Stanford Psy.D. Consortium in Palo Alto, CA. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at the Northport VA Medical Center in New York, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship with an emphasis in primary care psychology at the San Francisco VA Medical Center. Her clinical interests are based in behavioral medicine, and include motivational processes involved in adaptive health behavior change, facilitating integrative and interdisciplinary approaches to comprehensive healthcare, as well as assisting patients and their families cope with the challenges associated with life-impacting medical diagnoses, care, and survivorship.

  • Christopher Constantino, M.S., CCC-SLP
    PhD Candidate, Speech Language Pathology, University of Memphis

The Lived Experience of Stuttering: Measuring Spontaneity

Spontaneous speech is characterized by little premeditation, effortless production, and is enjoyable/meaningful. Fluent speech is characterized by a lack of noticeable disfluencies. Our hypothesis was that the difficulty of stuttering has less to do with the occurrence of disfluency than with the lack of spontaneity that accompanies effortful speech, regardless of the speaker’s degree of fluency. That is, fluent speech, as well as stuttered speech, can be produced spontaneously or with effort. This presentation will outline a theoretical model that uses spontaneity rather than fluency to understand the experience of stuttering. We will discuss the results of an ecological momentary assessment study in which spontaneity and fluency were measured during the real-life conversations of people who stutter. Clinical implications will be discussed.

Christopher Constantino, MS, CCC-SLP, lives in Memphis, Tennessee. He is a person who stutters, PhD candidate at the University of Memphis, speech language pathologist with Shelby County Schools, StutterTalk cohost, and chapter leader of the Memphis NSA chapter. He works clinically with children and adults with communication disorders. His research interests include the subjective experience of disability, the discursive and material production of disability, counseling, and the facilitation of agency. He has presented his research and given workshops at national and international conferences as well as published his work in peer-reviewed journals and textbooks. Chris enjoys riding his bicycle.

  • Rod Gabel, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, BCS-F
    Professor, University of Toledo

Prejudice and Discrimination Related to Employment Opportunities for People Who Stutter

Research studies have explored issues related to stereotyping and perceptions of people who stutter. Included in this body of research is a group of studies that have examined occupational stereotyping, work experiences of people who stutter, and attitudes that employers report toward people who stutter. In this presentation, findings of this research will be explored within the context of prejudice and discrimination of people who stutter related to employment.

Rodney Gabel, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, BCS-F has worked exclusively with people who stutterfor the past 20 years. He is a Board Recognized Specialist. Dr. Gabel delivers most of the services for the Northwest Ohio Stuttering Clinic, which he directs. Dr. Gabel is a Professor in the Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) Program at the University of Toledo. Dr. Gabel conducts research and teaches the graduate coursework in stuttering.

  • Hope Gerlach, M.A., CCC-SLP
    Doctoral Candidate, Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Iowa

The Impact of Stuttering on Adult Labor Market Outcomes

Qualitative and survey research suggest that people who stutter cope with difficulty and discrimination in the workplace. Results from the first quantitative study of the impact of stuttering on adult labor market outcomes in the United States provide additional merit to these claims. During this presentation, we will present results from an analysis of several nuanced labor market outcomes using a longitudinal dataset containing data from more than 5,000 people. Consequences of stigma, including discrimination and self-stigma, contributed to an earnings gap between PWS and PWNS. Men who stutter appear to be particularly vulnerable to occupational difficulties. Additional results and implications of this research will be discussed.

Hope Gerlach, M.S. is a doctoral student at The University of Iowa. She has bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Speech and Hearing Sciences from Indiana University and a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Purdue University. Her specific research interests are still evolving, but include social justice issues in Communication Sciences and Disorders and the relationships between stuttering, stigma, and identity.

  • Eric S. Jackson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
    Assistant Professor, New York University

Characterizing Responses to the Anticipation of Stuttering

Stuttering anticipation refers to the sense that stuttering will occur before it is overtly realized. This generally covert phenomenon is difficult to both observe and treat because it can alter the behaviors of stuttering in complex ways. During this presentation, I will present data which characterize how children and adults who stutter respond to anticipation, as well as highlight a potential link between anticipation and temperament. I will argue that it is critical for all clinicians and researchers to be cognizant of the impact of anticipation on stuttering behavior.

Eric is an Assistant Professor in the Communication Sciences and Disorders department at New York University (as of 7/1/17). His research focuses on the acquisition and development of speech production and communication in people who do and do not stutter. He is particularly interested in social-cognitive factors that influence the contextual variability of stuttering, such as anticipation. Eric also works clinically with people who stutter of all ages and trains graduate students, both in the US and internationally, to do the same. As a clinician-scientist, Eric draws on his own experience as a person who stutters to both inform and inspire his research, practice, and teaching.

  • Nan Bernstein Ratner, Ed.D., CCC-SLP
    Professor, Hearing and Speech Sciences, University of Maryland

Facing chronic challenges: lessons learned from our research and from others working with similar challenges

Each person who lives with a disorder experiences it differently, and every chronic disorder has its unique features. Research continues to broaden our understanding of the functional impacts of a chronic condition such as stuttering; such research [in any specific disorder area] can help individuals, therapists and advocates proactively work to minimize adverse consequences of being a “Person who…[stutters, has cancer, has diabetes…”]

We may be able to improve outcomes by noting that there is a substantive body of work in allied health fields to address impacts faced by others in our society who face different, but conceptually parallel challenges to PWS. The goal of this panel and attendee discussion is to identify ways in which we can continue to enrich our own knowledge base regarding critical needs of PWS, while extending our potential to improve functional outcomes by purposefully exploring the benefits of approaches used by our allied health colleagues to confront parallel challenges that they see in everyday practice.

Nan Bernstein Ratner is Professor, Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park. She is a Fellow and Honors recipient of the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association (ASHA). In 2014, she was made a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Her primary areas of research are fluency development and disorder (stuttering), psycholinguistics and the role of adult input and interaction in child language development. The author of numerous research articles, chapters and edited texts, she is the co-author of A Handbook on Stuttering (6th ed) with the late Oliver Bloodstein, as well as The Development of Language (7th ed) and Psycholinguistics (2nd ed.), both with Jean Berko Gleason. She is a Board-recognized Specialist in Child Language Disorders. In 2006, Professor Bernstein Ratner received the Distinguished Researcher award from the International Fluency Association. She currently serves as its President-Elect. In 2016, Dr. Bernstein Ratner was named Professional of the Year by the National Stuttering Association. She currently co-directs (with Brian MacWhinney of Carnegie-Mellon University) the NIH/NSF-funded FluencyBank (www.fluency.talkbank.org), which aims to consolidate open access data with potential to improve both research and clinical education in fluency disorders.

  • Evan Totty, Ph. D
    Economist, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC

Evan Totty, Ph.D., is an economist for the United States Census Bureau. He worked on this project while completing his Ph.D. in economics at Purdue University.  His research interests include topics related to earnings, employment, and policy. Recent work includes studying the impact of minimum wage hikes on employment and the impact of attending high value-added high schools on post-secondary outcomes. He also studies methodological issues, such as the use of factor models to control for unobserved factors in panel studies and methods to account for missing data uncertainty and sample uncertainty in survey data.

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