The 12th Annual Oxford Dysfluency Conference

The theme of this year’s 12th Oxford Dysfluency Conference  was ‘Challenge and Change.’ None of us could possibly have known how prophetic this title was to be when we decided it over two years ago!

The conference, usually held in St Catherine’s College in Oxford, one of the colleges of Oxford University, England, took place on January 7 and 8, 2021. It is a tranquil setting amongst the old and beautiful buildings of historic Oxford.

However, the pandemic meant that we not only had to change the dates from September, 2020, to January, 2021, but also had to move the Conference to a virtual platform. This certainly felt like ‘Challenge and Change’ and was the first time that a scientific conference in our field has been held in this way.

The good news is that the Conference was a huge success in so many ways. The Keynote speakers agreed to give this a try and produced the most fabulous sessions. Kate Watkins talked about ‘Scanning and stimulating the brain in people who stutter.’ Vivian Sisskin spoke about the ‘Stuttering Treatment in a social model of disability,’ highlighting the double messages that we send in therapy. Ellen Kelly described the rationale and ways that therapy can help children who stutter develop resilience. The Stuttering Foundation sponsored two keynote presentations: Frank Guenther who detailed ‘Neural modeling and imaging’ in stuttering and Ali Berquez who presented the Inaugural Stuttering Foundation Workshop, focusing on the use of Solution Focused Brief Therapy with parents of children who stutter. Sara MacIntyre, Stuttering Foundation’s Director of Programs, had the honor of chairing Ali Berquez’s session on behalf of Stuttering Foundation.

In addition to these wonderful keynote presentations, the program contained 189 oral and poster presentations. It was surprising and exciting to see how much research is being conducted at a time when we face so many challenges. 

The scientists considered how their research may translate into clinical practice and the clinicians presented their practices in the context of research evidence. There are so many people dedicated to improving our understanding of stuttering and how best to support those who stutter. The conference was attended by almost 400 delegates – a record for ODC!  Evidence that making change in the face of what challenges us, can have positive benefits.

The presentations are available to registered delegates until the end of February, the Stuttering Foundation will be making the keynote presentations available later this year, and papers arising from the conference will be published in the Journal of Communication Disorders later this year, so the opportunities for learning from ODC 2021 will continue.

From the Winter 2021 Magazine