The University of Iowa’s looking for kids to take part in two studies of speech problems. Professor Patricia Zebrowski says one project is already in progress. That study’s looking at children who are at the point just before they begin stuttering, so researchers can test and observe to see which kids get better, and which persist in developing a stuttering problem.
A second study’s about to begin, in partnership with Purdue University. They’ll look at young children who stutter to see how their brains process information, and see if that can tell us something about the development of stuttering. The kids don’t have to undergo any painful procedures, or take hard tests to be part of this study. The researchers use a non-invasive kind of imaging in which they put a cap on the child with disks that record brain activity.
Zebrowski, a professor of speech pathology, says there’s a good reason to do their research using young children. Almost all the “brain work” done on people who stutter so far has been done on adults — Zebrowski says we haven’t been able to look at the brains of kids, but with new technology now we can see factors that may cause stuttering.
More than 60 years ago, a U-of-I professor experimented on children from an Iowa orphanage, to see if stuttering could be induced. Years later some of those children sued, saying they’d suffered unhappiness, social problems and worse from the way they were treated. Zebrowski’s aware of the case, but says things are different now. There wasn’t any policy anywhere back then protecting human subjects.
Zebrowski says after a number of studies that demonstrated that problem, like the infamous Tuskeegee Study, there are now many stringent laws that protect research participants against any harm being done to them by researchers. Parents willing to have their child’s speech recorded for an hour or two in visits over a period of five years can contact Zebrowski to ask her more 319-335-8735 or by e-mail at: [email protected]