Stuttering Research and Treatment Around the World: Israel Research into the phenomenon of stuttering and its treatment in Israel, similar to other parts of the world, is very challenging since stuttering still is regarded as an enigma by many researchers and clinicians. Stuttering research still is taking its preliminary steps, and the number of local researchers in the ... World Beat
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World Beat  |   October 01, 2005
Stuttering Research and Treatment Around the World: Israel
Author Notes
  • Ruth Ezrati-Vinacour, senior-teacher in the Department of Communication Disorders at Tel-Aviv University, is a speech-language pathologist who specializes in stuttering and fluency disorders. She has a special interest in family therapy and rationale-emotive therapy. Contact her at ruthez@post.tau.ac.il.
    Ruth Ezrati-Vinacour, senior-teacher in the Department of Communication Disorders at Tel-Aviv University, is a speech-language pathologist who specializes in stuttering and fluency disorders. She has a special interest in family therapy and rationale-emotive therapy. Contact her at ruthez@post.tau.ac.il.×
  • Ofer Amir, a lecturer at the Department of Communication Disorders at Tel-Aviv University, is a speech-language pathologist who specializes in stuttering and fluency disorders as well as in voice pathology. Contact him at oferamir@post.tau.ac.il.
    Ofer Amir, a lecturer at the Department of Communication Disorders at Tel-Aviv University, is a speech-language pathologist who specializes in stuttering and fluency disorders as well as in voice pathology. Contact him at oferamir@post.tau.ac.il.×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Fluency Disorders / International & Global / World Beat
World Beat   |   October 01, 2005
Stuttering Research and Treatment Around the World: Israel
The ASHA Leader, October 2005, Vol. 10, 8-9. doi:10.1044/leader.WB5.10142005.8
The ASHA Leader, October 2005, Vol. 10, 8-9. doi:10.1044/leader.WB5.10142005.8
Research into the phenomenon of stuttering and its treatment in Israel, similar to other parts of the world, is very challenging since stuttering still is regarded as an enigma by many researchers and clinicians.
Stuttering research still is taking its preliminary steps, and the number of local researchers in the field is limited. Over the past years, stuttering research in Israel focused on issues such as awareness of stuttering-dysfluency, anxiety, and social phobia in people who stutter. It examined various theories, measuring emotional arousal through event-related brain potentials, and evaluating cognitive processing in people who stutter through different modalities like time estimation, attention in dual task, learning a miniature “artificial” language, meta-linguistic aspects in school-age children, and gestures of people who stutter as a part of non-verbal communication.
The Department of Communication Disorders at Tel-Aviv University and the Stuttering Research Project at the University of Illinois, under the direction of Ehud Yairi (who is also a guest professor at Tel-Aviv University) has collaborated to promote stuttering research in Israel. Yairi has taken a supportive and involved position in the research at Tel-Aviv University in the master’s and doctoral programs. Consequently, Tel-Aviv University now is one of the cooperating institutions in this international study, and our team has recruited families for this ongoing study of chromosomal signals for genes underlying stuttering.
Treatment
In contrast to research, stuttering treatment is well developed in Israel. Six highly experienced public clinics have a caseload of hundreds of patients each year and several private clinics specialize in stuttering treatment.
An important problem in stuttering treatment in Israel is the referral process for treatment. Within the public medical service, children who stutter are referred for speech evaluation by the family physician and/or pediatrician. Unfortunately, despite our recommendations, many of these physicians still advise parents to delay professional evaluation of the stuttering child until the age of six.
The different public medical care programs typically cover most of the expenses of the stuttering treatment until the child is 18 years old. However, the total number of treatment sessions the child can receive over this period is limited.
In general, there is no one special stuttering treatment program or treatment approach for stuttering children or adults, which is preferred by most speech-language clinicians in Israel. We feel that when we treat a person who stutters we interact with an individual as well as with the situation of his or her environment (including family, school, work, language, and culture), accepting the person who stutters as a whole person.
In light of that, the approaches toward stuttering treatment in Israel vary and represent different trends in the field. Different centers offer various treatment programs. For example, two local centers conduct an intensive three-week program; one is located in Jerusalem and is basically a public center, and the other is situated in central Israel and is a private clinic. Another unique computerized program is called “Dr. Fluency.” This program is based on self-practice fluency treatment, and is performed at home in front of the computer by the person who stutters.
In contrast to these two approaches, most treatment programs for stuttering in Israel have no fixed duration. The speech clinic in the Sheba Medical Center in Tel-Hashomer, (in the vicinity of Tel Aviv) is considered the largest and most acclaimed speech-language pathology and audiology center in Israel. It offers several different approaches to stuttering treatment, conducted in individual or group settings. Some clients are admitted for treatment programs that focus on fluency-shaping techniques and stuttering modification. Other clients are admitted to treatment programs that emphasize the emotional aspects as well as communication skills and attitudes toward stuttering. Additional approaches that are practiced in Israel focus on cognitive and emotional aspects of stuttering, like Rational-Emotional Therapy for adults who stutter.
A leading group of Israeli clinicians who specialize in stuttering have, since 1994, been in professional and supervisory contact with several internationally recognized colleagues. Among these is Nitza Katz from the University of Dortmund, Germany; and Frances Cook, Willie Botterill, and the late Lena Rustin, from the Michael Palin Center, London. These professional contacts and clinical exchanges have enriched our work in the emotional and cognitive aspects of treatment with children who stutter and their families. Thus, we give direct and indirect treatment (family interaction) to children who stutter.
Stuttering treatment is a challenging task, and more so in a multicultural society such as Israel. Communication, in general, is language-and culture-dependent and treating communication disorders needs to address this diversity. As clinicians and researchers, we feel the need to further deepen our professional and clinical knowledge in order to take an active part in advancing the field, and to more effectively treat our clients. We are looking forward to future mutual professional, academic, and research collaborations.
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October 2005
Volume 10, Issue 14