The University of Iowa’s hosting a world conference on stuttering. This is no gathering of scientists, though — it’s an intensive workshop for the people on the front lines, working speech therapists. Doctor Tricia Zebrowski’s an associate professor of speech therapy who explains people don’t just stutter in English. “No, they stutter in every language,” she declares. “It’s a pan-cultural phenomenon.” This workshop’s underwritten by a national professional organization. Participants apply to be accepted for the workshop, she says, and they must be speech pathologists who are specializing in stuttering. The National Stuttering Foundation pays their tuition, room, board and a part of their travel expenses if they’re approved to attend. It’s an intensive couple weeks, with classes every day from 9 to four. There are prestigious speakers from Vanderbilt and the University of Colorado at Boulder. People who stutter will come to talk about their experiences. There are therapy demonstrations and talk about research. Zebrowski says the University of Iowa is where the profession of speech therapy began, and where stuttering research started. There’s a cloud over some of that early research, as kids who lived in an orphanage sued over the way they were used in research without their knowledge or consent, to prove stuttering can be caused. Zebrowski says the University’s worked to overcome those missteps. She says the U-of-I’s improved its protection for human subjects over the last 25-35 years. The researchers at the University of Iowa not only do a lot of research and teaching, they have programs for children, teens and adults who stutter. The 16th annual international stuttering therapy workshop for specialists will continue through this Friday, July first.
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