Stuttering Enigma Last summer’s NBC show “America’s Got Talent” featured Drew Lynch, a 23-year-old, dysfluent comedian competing for $1 million and a professional entertainment career. According to his background story (details are absent), he was playing softball when a grounder took an unexpected bounce, striking him in the throat. By Lynch’s account, ... Inbox
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Inbox  |   December 01, 2015
Stuttering Enigma
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Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Fluency Disorders / Inbox
Inbox   |   December 01, 2015
Stuttering Enigma
The ASHA Leader, December 2015, Vol. 20, 6. doi:10.1044/leader.IN2.20122015.6
The ASHA Leader, December 2015, Vol. 20, 6. doi:10.1044/leader.IN2.20122015.6
Last summer’s NBC show “America’s Got Talent” featured Drew Lynch, a 23-year-old, dysfluent comedian competing for $1 million and a professional entertainment career. According to his background story (details are absent), he was playing softball when a grounder took an unexpected bounce, striking him in the throat. By Lynch’s account, the accident caused “damage” to his vocal chords and nerves in his larynx, leaving him with a “stutter.” An Internet search reveals few details.
A blog on SpeechIRL.com, however, raises relevant issues on the etiology of Lynch’s stuttering. It quotes Barry Guitar, who says although stuttering can have a neurogenic or psychogenic cause, these rare cases are poorly documented. The blog doesn’t attempt to assign either diagnosis, but Lynch’s stutter clearly isn’t developmental. Because Lynch’s story defies widespread beliefs concerning stuttering patterns and causes, we—Northeastern University communication sciences and disorders professors emeriti—want to understand this case to advance our understanding of stuttering and its treatment. We’d like to know:
  • What laryngeal nerves were damaged?

  • What was the neuropathology pattern?

  • Was there evidence of concussion or brain damage?

  • What was the outcome of any dysfluency treatment?

  • Have professionals who provided treatment commented?

  • Has severity changed since onset?

  • Does literature support stuttering that follows trauma to laryngeal nerves?

  • Is there comparison of his on-camera and off-camera dysfluency?

Most online commentary is from fellow stutterers who speak to Lynch’s courage to face stuttering in this productive and positive manner. Professional commentary has been lacking. Let’s examine this most interesting case.
Robert J. Ferullo, Woburn, Massachusetts; Robert B. Redden, North Falmouth, Massachusetts

This is another fascinating case—one that has spurred similar discussion on the Leader blog.

Correction

The profile of Eli Munyankindi in the October issue incorrectly identified him as the first and only speech-language pathologist in Rwanda. In fact, there are five other SLPs working in the country, including Tumusiime Joseph, a native who received training in Uganda, and four from other countries. The Leader extends apologies to these clinicians in Rwanda for failing to acknowledge their work.

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December 2015
Volume 20, Issue 12