Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dave - Conclusions from the Congress

Paul Brocklehurst

Now that the Congress is over, it's interesting to look back on it and provide some sort of summary, or perhaps conclusion. First, was there anything really new? I'd have to conclude, not really. It seems to me that at most conferences there is not a lot which is really new presented. On the other hand there were some interesting papers. Jerry Maguire and Nan Ratner's talk was excellent and highly entertaining - they make a great double act and I like where stuttering is heading in DSM-V if they get their way. I particularly liked the paper by Paul Brocklehurst on the potential link between stuttering and perfectionism. It wasn’t clear from his data that PWS were more “perfectionist” than non-PWS, but it seems like an idea worth pursuing.

Shelly Jo Kraft gave an excellent paper on “Temperament, life events, and home environment in developmental stuttering severity”, which formed the basis for her PhD research. She argued that children with high effortful control (EC) can cope with changes in their environment. According to her, Effortful Control is the ability to ignore something distracting, like the TV and concentrate on what you want to do, e.g. reading. She argued that stuttering children with high EC may be able to attain more fluent speech. There was also a very useful presentation on the use of the speech analysis program PRAAT for timing and tallying dysfluencies by Paul Corthals. Having used PRAAT I can verify that it is a very powerful program.

I also attended the presentation by Peter Lajos entitled “Case Study of a 13-year-old Boy with Depression and Stutter”. This took essentially a psychoanalytic approach and as a single case study was very different from most of the other presentations. Whilst I don't generally favour a psychoanalytic approach I thought it was excellent, reminding us of the need for SLTs to understand individuals and their thoughts and of the need for SLTs to have a strong sense of humanity.

There were also several workshops, e.g. "A Brief Introduction to Solution Focused Brief Therapy" by Willie Botterill and "The Camperdown Program for Adults who Stutter" by Sue O'Brian. These provided a good opportunity for therapists to learn some practical skills.

Of course, I missed a lot too. Usually there were three or four parallel sessions and of course you have to make a choice of what to listen to. It was made more difficult because we only had the authors and titles to go on - the abstracts were not available. A pity. I imagine many people sat through stuff and wished they’d been in another session.

There was also a lot of very preliminary work included. Here’s one example, my comments in brackets:

"Although no definite conclusions can be drawn from this small (so why not have more?) sample of subjects, the results indicate that 50% (5) of the ten SpeechEasy users had less problems after one year of using the device.. "

(So I guess this means 50% had the same or more problems? Hardly worth reporting is it? And another ten refused to use the device!)

All these preliminary publications are partly because of the trend of Universities to demand more and more publications from their staff. The same thing is happening in journals. It is driving down quality, because there is not really enough good quality research being done - it take a long time, it can’t be knocked out in a couple of weeks. And of course conference organisers are reluctant to reject papers because it means the presenters will not attend, with a loss of income.

Overall though, a very enjoyable Congress. Thank you, John and Monica.

Finally, I’d like to thank Tom for giving me this opportunity to be a guest blogger and never interfering. All the thoughts and words are mine alone.


sachin said...

Dave, thanks a lot for summing up everything so well..
sachin (TISA)

Anonymous said...

Thanks Dave, appreciate your hard work and time. It is greatly appreciated by many.

Anonymous said...

The issue is that Dave is biased towards Suzana. Because Dave is friends with Suzana, right?

Dave is not friends with Benny...just thought people should know. The reporting is not 100% objective, right Dave?

Dave Rowley said...

As Tom commented, Suzana just gave her side of the story. If anything the fact that we're friends made me try to be more objective, to avoid this sort of problem. Benny is free to comment and Tom has stated that he can have an interview with him, if he wishes.

Anonymous said...

Dave, can you say more about the workshops or presentations that you attended? Or say more about your own presentation or poster?

If you have time, I am sure other people would be interested.