STUTTERERS are 34 times more likely than the average person to be diagnosed with a social phobia.
University of Ballarat academic Grant Meredith doesn’t have much in the way of social anxiety but that hasn’t stopped him from developing a program to help those that do.
Mr Meredith has devoted four years to developing Scenari-Aid, an online computer program that allows people who find it difficult to interact socially, to develop, practice and improve their social skils.
Scenari-Aid, will be officially launched tomorrow as part of his Technologies for Empowering People for Participation in Society program.
Mr Meredith describes Scenari-Aid as a social simulator, allowing people who use it to practice at their own pace.
“I am a proud stutterer. I’ve stuttered since I was a child. And I work as a university lecturer,” Mr Meredith said.
“Often people who stutter experience frequent feelings of poor self-esteem, lack the motivation to progress socially and career-wise and have feelings of poor self-worth.
“Scenari-Aid is a technology that can be used to practice speech but also how to deal with social phobia and anxiety. It has more than 100 pre-recorded social situations, including shopping, job interviews, dining out and using public transport. People can practice interacting with a person and can pause and stop it so they can work through each scenario at their own pace.”
The initial run of 1000 Scenari-Aid DVDs was distributed freely to people who stutter, speech clinics and related academics in Australia and globally. The DVD contained 25 digital scenarios.
The expanded program is now available for free on the internet although people who wish to use it must register online.
Mr Meredith said his own stuttering affliction was only part of his motivation for developing the program.
“It was a motivator but more of the motivation is to improve people’s quality of life,” he said.
Mr Meredith’s efforts have been supported by national stuttering bodies and research centres.
Scenari-Aid has also been used and evaluated for developmental disorders, stroke recovery, teaching English skills to people from non-English speaking backgrounds and for assisting unemployed people to learn interview skills.
Scenari-Aid can now be found for free at scenariaid.com