Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Stuttering: a developmental disorder?

Sorry for the few posts over the last weeks. I am currently on a France round trip, and I will be at the Antwerp stuttering conference on Friday and Saturday. I will report on the conference.
Today, I want to talk about stuttering as a developmental disorder. The term is misleading. Let's assume stuttering is caused by genes (as it is in some families), how can you possibly label stuttering a developmental disorder??? After all, the body has developed smoothly according to what the genes instructed! The final results might well show deviations from the normal population that became apparent during the development of the child, but that is hardly a developmental disorder per se? On the other hand, if stuttering is caused by a neurological incident like a virus infection or head injury, the smooth development of the brain according to what the genes instructed has definitely been disrupted, and we can call it a developmental disorder.
People seem to define a developmental disorder, a disorder that becomes apparent when the child is in development. So it is based on symptoms. This way of thinking is highly misleading and confusing.


strawdog said...

Whatever you call it, one thing is sure: it's not normal.

Anonymous said...

My guess would be that just from observations that some children who stutter recover spontaneously, that an early conclusion would be that some degree of stuttering is normal and that as the typical child matures they develop the neurological and cognitive controls needed to have the stuttering fade away.

ac said...

Does it matter? Disciplines have a terminology, and it's not always literal. Thermodynamics is really an equilibrium theory, and not dynamical at all...

Besides, not everyone with a genetic predisposition to a disease develops it. Surely the fact that so many children recover from their stutter makes it developmental, in the completely literal sense of the word.

Einar said...

I don't like the term "developmental" either. Why do you use it in the title line of the blog? ("Sharing with you the on-going revolution in understanding Persistent Developmental Stuttering.")
How about to adapt it and remove persistent and developmental from it?