Using assisted devices

Hi experts!  I am a 2nd year graduate student, and am currently in an advanced stuttering class. In class we haven’t discussed using assisted devices with PWS, but I have read information on ASHA’s website and in other places about potentially using assisted devices with PWS. I was just curious what you guys thought or heard about this topic? Also wondering when it would be appropriate to use and how?

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Using assisted devices — 2 Comments

  1. Good question, Kailee, and an interesting topic. Many electronic devices were designed to provide people who stutter with a solution that requires no training. In practice, however, they may work better in conjunction with traditional therapy, at least according to some preliminary survey results. Their popularity is somewhat diminished by high cost, a lack of research demonstrating long-term and widespread effectiveness, and skepticism that they will work in the first place. Overall, success has been varied, but some clients have clearly benefited. The variance may be partly explained by severity (some devices seem to work better with more severe stuttering). Also, there are anecdotal reports suggesting that issues of background noise, waning effectiveness, and different levels of access to speech-language pathologists (to offer guidance) all play a role in effectiveness. The bottom line, however, appears to be that electronic devices can offer hope to some people who stutter.

  2. I think that assistive devices can also reduce self-efficacy in some clients, which can be particularly harmful if the speaker adapts to the device, and it works less well over time (as has been shown in some studies). While some will compare assistive devices to eyeglasses, which can correct vision, the science linking changes in speech to the actual device function is very unclear and speculative, which may explain the widespread variability in response (not characteristics of eye glasses). Thus, some individuals (both PWS and clinicians) can think of assistive devices are more like crutches than corrective lenses. Since you are being taught how to work with clients on development of skills, it’s not surprising that little emphasis may be placed on such devices in class. In fact, a major vendor of an altered auditory feedback device has consistently counseled that the device be used as an ADJUNCT to therapy, rather than seen as a remediation tool by itself.