What Is Stuttering? When it comes to stuttering, one must be very careful of a priori assumptions they may have formed about the nature of the disorder and its associated behaviors. A broad understanding and thorough familiarity with the evidence are essential to averting misinterpretations, such as those made by Wingate, concerning the ... Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor  |   June 01, 2001
What Is Stuttering?
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ehud Yairi
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Ruth Watkins
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Nicoline Ambrose
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Elaine Paden
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Fluency Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Speech / Letters to the Editor
Letter to the Editor   |   June 01, 2001
What Is Stuttering?
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2001, Vol. 44, 585-592. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2001/046)
History: Received January 10, 2001 , Accepted April 25, 2001
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2001, Vol. 44, 585-592. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2001/046)
History: Received January 10, 2001; Accepted April 25, 2001
Web of Science® Times Cited: 14

When it comes to stuttering, one must be very careful of a priori assumptions they may have formed about the nature of the disorder and its associated behaviors. A broad understanding and thorough familiarity with the evidence are essential to averting misinterpretations, such as those made by Wingate, concerning the bases of terminology (SLD) and category (part-word repetitions) selections. We understand Wingate’s impression regarding the primary role of syllable repetitions, given that typically they are the most common component in the disfluent speech behavior of those who stutter and that in many children they are the dominant disfluency type. Indeed, some children display few monosyllabic whole-word repetitions. Nevertheless, this does not mean that the monosyllabic whole-word repetitions, especially in very young children, are not a valid reflection of stuttering.

As we have shown, Wingate’s argument can be contested in several ways. Because some fundamental measures of accuracy, validity, and internal consistency, as well as reliance on published data, are essential for credibility, we believe that his letter represents a harsh violation of these principles. Wingate has offered an opinion, but that is the limit to the nature of his remarks. His points are merely opinions because he has not considered all the evidence and has not acknowledged all the facts regarding the nature of speech and its identification. Wingate frequently makes sweeping statements (e.g., there are "…clear-cut differences that exist between monosyllabic word repetitions and stutters" [Wingate, 2001, p. 383]) without any substantiation from the research literature and appears to be oblivious to progress in the field. His last paragraph, which completely distorts our record of research, is scientifically dangerous. Although we appreciate his previous contributions to the field, regrettably, as we have stated earlier, his letter fails to meet acceptable scientific standards. We respectfully suggest that Wingate’s call for honestly employed scientific methods in stuttering research be directed at his own writing.

Finally, our large longitudinal study on persistency and recovery in stuttering, as reported in the series of publications (e.g., Yairi & Ambrose, 1999), arbitrarily selected by Wingate for attack as a means to expose his opinion about the "real thing," has been repeatedly and rigorously reviewed by various panels of the National Institutes of Health, the agency supporting this work, and by the editorial boards of several scientific journals, including JSLHR. Having been found to be of sound quality, our ongoing project has been repeatedly approved, and its findings reported in many peer-reviewed publications. We take this record as an indication that many scholars in the field evaluate our research as meritorious.

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