Letter to the Editor

Saltuklaroglu, Tim; Kalinowski, Joseph; Stuart, Andrew
August 2010
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Aug2010, Vol. 53 Issue 4, p908
Academic Journal
Purpose: To challenge the findings of Pollard, Ellis, Finan, and Ramig (2009), who examined 11 participants using the SpeechEasy, an in-the-ear device that employs altered auditory feedback to reduce stuttering, in a 6-month "clinical trial." Pollard et al. failed to demonstrate a significant treatment effect on stuttering frequency, yet found positive subjective self-report data across four months of use. The authors concluded that the device was not therapeutically useful and further testing is unwarranted. Results: We dispute Pollard et al. on the following grounds: Their operational definition of stuttering is confounded as it does not adequately distinguish true stuttering from "normally" disfluent speech or from volitionally produced initiating gestures taught to be used as part of the treatment protocol, nor is it the definition used in their pre- and posttreatment stuttering assessment instrument; they failed to maintain participant adherence to the treatment protocol of device usage; they utilized an inadequate question-asking task; and their conclusion of no significant treatment effect that is drawn from their inferential statistical analyses of group data. Conclusions: In light of problematic objective measurements, reported positive subjective findings, a robust corpus of contradictory data, and the need for alternative stuttering treatments, we argue that the SpeechEasy merits further investigation.


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