Stuttering Conference in St. Pete July 4–8

The annual conference provides an opportunity for USF researchers to jumpstart new research direction.


From USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (June 27, 2012) – The nation’s largest event for people who stutter, the National Stuttering Association’s annual conference, Freedom of Speech at the Beach, will bring about 700 people to the Tampa area July 4 to July 8.


The conference, at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort, features more than 50 workshops on stuttering research, treatment and support. Attendees will include children who stutter and their families, as well as adults who stutter and speech professionals.


People who stutter make up about 1 percent of the population. Specific causes of this multifaceted disorder remain elusive and there is no cure. Current research is exploring the genetic, physiological and psychological interactions associated with stuttering.


The University of South Florida’s Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders and Associate Professor Nathan Maxfield, has found that his association with the organization helps his research on how stuttering progresses.


“The NSA conference provides a unique opportunity to meet and learn about people who stutter across the lifespan,” Maxfield said. “A new aim of my research at USF is to track neurocognitive development in people who stutter, from childhood to senescence.”


He added, “People who stutter often relapse after treatment. Neurocognitive plasticity is requisite for speech therapy to be successful. Yet we know very little about neurocognitive development in people who stutter. Research data collected from NSA conference-goers will provide an important first glimpse.”


The nonprofit National Stuttering Association is the world’s largest stuttering support organization, with about 100 local support groups in the U.S. including one in Tampa. “Support meetings help children and adults who stutter improve their communication skills,” said Sheryl Hunter, a Tampa resident who chairs the NSA. She is the parent of a child who stutters. Working with children who stutter and their parents is a priority for the NSA, which sponsors an annual Youth Day program with USF.


Local support groups help adults who stutter gain confidence in handling situations such as introducing themselves, using the telephone and even public speaking. Surveys show that support group participation helps reduce the negative effects of stuttering and enhances the success of speech therapy. The NSA works closely with speech professionals and refers people who stutter to speech-language pathologists who have the specialized qualifications needed for effective treatment.


Registration for the conference is available on-site: $195 for the three-day conference or $65 for one day. For more information, contact Jim McClure, (505) 833-3985, or visit