08/04/10 SpeechEasy Discussions

I came across these letters to the editor of the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research (JSLHR), August 2010. They have to do with a study that looked at the functionality of the SpeechEasy anti-stuttering device. The SpeechEasy has been questioned as losing its effectiveness across time; that initial success using the device does not persist over months and years. Perhaps this is true for some, if not many who use or have used the device. For those of you researching the topic, I am making this available for educational purposes.
Letter to the Editor
Response to Saltuklaroglu, Kalinowski, and Stuart (2010)
Ryan Pollard
University of Colorado at Boulder
Don Finan
University of Northern Colorado, Greeley
Peter R. Ramig
University of Colorado at Boulder
Contact author: Ryan Pollard, University of Colorado at Boulder, Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences, 409 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309. E-mail: ryan.pollard@colorado.edu.
Purpose: To reply to the criticisms of Saltuklaroglu, Kalinowski, and Stuart (2010) by addressing their concerns regarding our study’s methodology, statistical analyses, and findings. Also, to challenge what we view as omissions, misinterpretations, and inaccuracies on their part.
Results: Our operational definition of stuttering was sound. Participant adherence to the treatment protocol was telling and appropriately enforced. The question-asking task was proper given participant characteristics. Statistical analyses of treatment effects were correctly interpreted. Our general conclusions regarding the clinical merit of the SpeechEasy were misinterpreted by Saltuklaroglu and colleagues; our findings were in fact far less nullifying and more balanced than what they claim.
Conclusions: While robust immediate effects of altered auditory feedback (AAF) in the laboratory are well documented, recent longitudinal experiments conducted in naturalistic settings have found less consistent and pronounced effects with the SpeechEasy. These reports also indicate that initial reductions in stuttering are often not maintained over time. Future efforts to determine why this is so would be worthwhile.
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research Vol.53 912-916 August 2010. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2010/10-0050)
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Letter to the Editor
Refutation of a Therapeutic Alternative? A Reply to Pollard, Ellis,
Finan, and Ramig (2009)
Tim Saltuklaroglu
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Joseph Kalinowski
Andrew Stuart
East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
Contact author: Tim Saltuklaroglu, Audiology and Speech Pathology, University of Tennessee, 533 South Stadium Hall, Knoxville, TN 37996-0740. E-mail: tsaltukl@utk.edu.
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.
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research Vol.53 908-911 August 2010. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/09-0128)
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association