Simplifying stuttering measurement in schools

In this article, Mirawdeli and Howell investigate whether all three elements of the commonly-used Stuttering Severity Instrument (SSI) are necessary in order to categorize children as fluent vs. dysfluent. These three measures are:

  1. frequency of non-fluent events (percentage of stuttered syllables, %SS, from a sample of 200 syllables)
  2. duration of the three longest non-fluent events
  3. physical concomitants (facial and bodily movements with speech) 

Data from 10–15-minute speech samples from 879 children aged 4–6 indicate that (1) alone (above) is sufficient to make this determination. The authors explain why, both statistically and clinically, it makes sense to drop the use of (2) and (3) in screening procedures. Conclusions are drawn from both the current data and previous research. The authors highlight some pros of using Riley’s SSI method of counting %SS (Riley, 1994), such as that it doesn’t include whole-word repetitions as stuttered events. This is particularly helpful in schools with English-learning students who may have word-finding difficulties, which often present in the form of whole-word repetitions. The authors also compare the newer SSI-4 to the SSI-3, and discuss why you may choose to continue using SSI-3 (see more here).

See: Mirawdeli, A., & Howell, P. (2016). Is it necessary to assess fluent symptoms, duration of dysfluent events, and physical concomitants when identifying children who have speech difficulties? Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/02699206.2016.1179345.