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Stutter-like dysfluencies in Flemish sign language users

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Abstract
Although stuttering is primarily considered to be a disorder of speech, stutter-like dysfluencies have been reported to occur during non-speech activities such as musical expression and sign language. Recently we conducted a questionnaire study aimed at documenting the possible occurrence and nature of stutter-like dysfluencies in Flemish Sign Language. A questionnaire was sent to 66 individuals who have knowledge of Flemish Sign Language and come regularly in contact with Flemish Sign Language users. They were 38 Flemish Sign Language interpreters and 28 employees of special needs schools adapted to deaf and partially deaf pupils. The questionnaire consisted of three parts. First, the participants were inquired about their occupational activities. The second part focused on the research questions. Namely, the interviewees were asked whether they had ever noticed dysfluencies in the manual communication of the deaf and partially deaf. If so, they had to indicate on a list which type of dysfluencies they had perceived and specify whether the dysfluencies generally occurred at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of a sign movement. Finally, the participants were asked to provide details (such as gender, age, nature of the fluency problems, awareness, secondary behaviour, and influencing factors) on each deaf and partially deaf person they consider to be dysfluent in the manual mode. Of the 66 individuals surveyed, 13 (i.e. 20%) responded. Of those 13 respondents, nine (i.e. 69%) reported to have observed dysfluencies in the manual communication of Flemish Sign Language users. Concerning the nature of these dysfluencies, participants mostly perceived ‘involuntary interjections’, ‘repetitions of sign movement’, ‘unusual body movements’ and ‘poor fluidity of the sign’. Looking at the distribution of the dysfluencies within the sign movement, fluency failures can occur at various loci but there seems to be a slight preponderance for the initial position. Individuals considered to be dysfluent in the manual mode are often males. They can be aware of their fluency problems and if so will often demonstrate secondary stuttering behaviour. Events accompanied by stress, fatigue or emotion will increase the manual dysfluencies at least in some cases. The current study revealed mainly features that are typical of stuttering, but also some features that are unlike those usually observed in stutterers. If dysfluencies in manual communication can be regarded as stuttering, this has implications for our perception of the stuttering phenomenon. One possibility is to hold on to the idea that stuttering is ‘first and foremost a disorder of speech’. On the other hand, instead of being a (speech) disorder on itself, stuttered speech and manual dysfluencies could be considered as symptoms of an underlying disturbance in motor functioning. In that case, one would expect to encounter stutter-like dysfluencies in all sorts of behaviour demanding extensive motor planning.

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Chicago
Cosyns, Marjan, Mieke Van Herreweghe, Griet Christiaens, and John Van Borsel. 2009. “Stutter-like Dysfluencies in Flemish Sign Language Users.” In VVL-congres, 31e, Abstracts. Vlaamse Vereniging voor Logopedisten (VVL).
APA
Cosyns, M., Van Herreweghe, M., Christiaens, G., & Van Borsel, J. (2009). Stutter-like dysfluencies in Flemish sign language users. VVL-congres, 31e, Abstracts. Presented at the 31ste VVL Congres : Upgrading logopedie, Vlaamse Vereniging voor Logopedisten (VVL).
Vancouver
1.
Cosyns M, Van Herreweghe M, Christiaens G, Van Borsel J. Stutter-like dysfluencies in Flemish sign language users. VVL-congres, 31e, Abstracts. Vlaamse Vereniging voor Logopedisten (VVL); 2009.
MLA
Cosyns, Marjan et al. “Stutter-like Dysfluencies in Flemish Sign Language Users.” VVL-congres, 31e, Abstracts. Vlaamse Vereniging voor Logopedisten (VVL), 2009. Print.
@inproceedings{1231435,
  abstract     = {Although stuttering is primarily considered to be a disorder of speech, stutter-like dysfluencies have been reported to occur during non-speech activities such as musical expression and sign language. Recently we conducted a questionnaire study aimed at documenting the possible occurrence and nature of stutter-like dysfluencies in Flemish Sign Language. A questionnaire was sent to 66 individuals who have knowledge of Flemish Sign Language and come regularly in contact with Flemish Sign Language users. They were 38 Flemish Sign Language interpreters and 28 employees of special needs schools adapted to deaf and partially deaf pupils. The questionnaire consisted of three parts. First, the participants were inquired about their occupational activities. The second part focused on the research questions. Namely, the interviewees were asked whether they had ever noticed dysfluencies in the manual communication of the deaf and partially deaf. If so, they had to indicate on a list which type of dysfluencies they had perceived and specify whether the dysfluencies generally occurred at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of a sign movement. Finally, the participants were asked to provide details (such as gender, age, nature of the fluency problems, awareness, secondary behaviour, and influencing factors) on each deaf and partially deaf person they consider to be dysfluent in the manual mode. Of the 66 individuals surveyed, 13 (i.e. 20%) responded. Of those 13 respondents, nine (i.e. 69%) reported to have observed dysfluencies in the manual communication of Flemish Sign Language users. Concerning the nature of these dysfluencies, participants mostly perceived ‘involuntary interjections’, ‘repetitions of sign movement’, ‘unusual body movements’ and ‘poor fluidity of the sign’. Looking at the distribution of the dysfluencies within the sign movement, fluency failures can occur at various loci but there seems to be a slight preponderance for the initial position. Individuals considered to be dysfluent in the manual mode are often males. They can be aware of their fluency problems and if so will often demonstrate secondary stuttering behaviour. Events accompanied by stress, fatigue or emotion will increase the manual dysfluencies at least in some cases. The current study revealed mainly features that are typical of stuttering, but also some features that are unlike those usually observed in stutterers. If dysfluencies in manual communication can be regarded as stuttering, this has implications for our perception of the stuttering phenomenon. One possibility is to hold on to the idea that stuttering is ‘first and foremost a disorder of speech’. On the other hand, instead of being a (speech) disorder on itself, stuttered speech and manual dysfluencies could be considered as symptoms of an underlying disturbance in motor functioning. In that case, one would expect to encounter stutter-like dysfluencies in all sorts of behaviour demanding extensive motor planning.},
  author       = {Cosyns, Marjan and Van Herreweghe, Mieke and Christiaens, Griet and Van Borsel, John},
  booktitle    = {VVL-congres, 31e, Abstracts},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Antwerp, Belgium},
  publisher    = {Vlaamse Vereniging voor Logopedisten (VVL)},
  title        = {Stutter-like dysfluencies in Flemish sign language users},
  year         = {2009},
}