Issues of Speech Naturalness in Stuttering: In recent years, clinical scientists have been concerned that treatments that produce fluency may not always result in natural-sounding speech. As Schiavetti and Metz (1997) warned, “Some stutterers may reduce their number of stutters at the expense of a speech pattern that is stutter-free but not really fluent.” Thus, some stuttering treatments may get rid of stuttering but leave an individual with speech that sounds odd, unusual, or unnatural.
Speech Naturalness: The extent to which speech sounds like that of a typical speaker who doesn’t stutter. This measure is useful because sometimes treatment leaves the individual technically “fluent” but sounding overly slow or otherwise odd.
Issues of Speech Naturalness
- In recent years, clinical scientists have been concerned that treatments that produce fluency may not always result in natural-sounding speech.
- As Schiavetti and Metz (1997) warned, “Some stutterers may reduce their number of stutters at the expense of a speech pattern that is stutter-free but not really fluent.” Thus, some stuttering treatments may get rid of stuttering but leave an individual with speech that sounds odd, unusual, or unnatural.
- Martin, Haroldson, and Triden (1984), one of the first investigative teams to report on this problem, found that unsophisticated listeners rated the stutter free speech of individuals who stutter speaking under DAF (delayed auditory feedback) as significantly more unnatural than the general speech of nonstutterers.
- Ingham, Gow, and Costello (1985) used the same rating scale and found that the fluent speech of treated stutterers was judged to be more unnatural than that of nonstutterers.
- Both investigations used a nine-point, equal-appearing interval scale to rate speakers based on judges’ intuitive sense of what sounded “natural,” speech naturalness.
- The judges in these and most subsequent studies exhibited satisfactory levels of interrater reliability and agreement, although individual rater reliability was only marginally satisfactory.
- Clinically, we need to be sure that clients sound as natural as possible after treatment. Otherwise, they are likely to abandon their fluency skills in favor of old, familiar stuttering patterns because of their own and listeners’ negative reactions to their post-treatment speech.
Can we rate our clients’ naturalness reliably?
- Schiavetti and Metz (1997) indicated that clinicians who have learned to be consistent raters of speech naturalness may rely on the relative values of their ratings. Thus, they can judge when a client sounds less natural than other clients they have treated and take appropriate steps to improve that client’s naturalness before releasing her from treatment.
- The SSI-4 incorporates a naturalness rating as part of the assessment. The speech naturalness scale (1 =extremely natural speech; 9 = extremely unnatural speech).
- Speech naturalness can be reliably and easily assessed. It is thought to be an especially important measure when evaluating treatment outcomes.
Improvement in Speech Naturalness
Clients begin by learning very slow, prolonged speech that has the following components:
- smooth, unrushed breathing patterns with appropriate breath grouping,
- gentle onset of voicing
- continuous airflow and smooth continuous movement of articulators within breath groups, and
- light contacts of articulators.
Once clients learn these skills, they gradually increase their speech rate and monitor their speech naturalness.
⇒ STUTTERING An Integrated Approach to Its Nature and Treatment – BARRY GUITAR, PH.D. (Book)
⇒ Stuttering and Cluttering – David Ward (Book)