Original Research

Eye movement as a simple, cost-effective tool for people who stutter: A case study

Hilary D.-L. McDonagh, Patrick Broderick, Kenneth Monaghan
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 70, No 1 | a968 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v70i1.968 | © 2023 Hilary D.-L. McDonagh, Patrick Broderick, Kenneth Monaghan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 February 2023 | Published: 31 August 2023

About the author(s)

Hilary D.-L. McDonagh, Department of Health and Nutritional Science, Faculty of Science, Atlantic Technological University, Sligo, Ireland
Patrick Broderick, Department of Social Science, Faculty of Business and Social Science, Atlantic Technological University, Sligo, Ireland
Kenneth Monaghan, Department of Health and Nutritional Science, Faculty of Science, Atlantic Technological University, Sligo, Ireland

Abstract

Background: Access to services remains the biggest barrier to helping the most vulnerable in the South African Stuttering Community. This novel stuttering therapy, harnessing an unconscious link between eye and tongue movement, may provide a new therapeutic approach, easily communicated and deliverable online.

Objectives: This study provides both objective and subjective assessments of the feasibility of this intervention. Assessment tools holistically address all components of stuttering in line with comprehensive treatment approaches: core behaviours, secondary behaviours, anticipation and reactions.

Method: On receipt of ethical approval, this single-subject case design recruited one adult (21-year-old) male with a developmental stutter (DS). The participant gave informed consent and completed four scheduled assessments: baseline, after 5-week training, 3 months post-intervention and 24 months post-completion. The study used objective assessment tools: Stuttering Severity Instrument-4 (SSI-4); Subjective-assessment tools: SSI-4 clinical use self-report tool (CUSR); Overall Assessment of Speaker’s Experience of Stuttering (OASES-A); Premonitory Awareness in Stuttering (PAiS) and Self-Report Stuttering Severity* (SRSS) (*final assessment).

Results: The participant’s scores improved across all assessment measures, which may reflect a holistic improvement. The participant reported that the tool was very useful. There were no negative consequences.

Conclusion: This case report indicates that this innovative treatment may be feasible. No adverse effects were experienced, and the treatment only benefited the participant. The results justify the design of a pilot randomised feasibility clinical trial.

Contribution: The results indicate that this is a needed breakthrough in stuttering therapy as the instructions can be easily translated into any language. It can also be delivered remotely reducing accessibility barriers.


Keywords

stuttering; intervention; self-help; telepractice; eye movement; saccades; tongue; anticipation; holistic; accessible; affordable

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