Rafael Coen

Rafael Coen was a physician, specializing in speech disorders of children. In Vienna in 1886 he opened the first language outpatient clinic of Austria. He coined the term "audimute" for children who did not speak after 4 years (German word: Horstummheit). He identified various speech disorders in addition to audimute and developed elaborate therapy regimens including a 70 week program of daily lessons to remedy audimutism and a program of exercise, electro-therapy and elocution to remedy stammering.

Coen’s description of “audimute” children is as follows:

A child, usually of good, at times blooming appearance, adequate bodily constitution and normal intellectual development, is brought to the speech doctor with the complaint that, despite his advanced age (4 to 10 years), he hasn’t yet begun to speak.The child hears very well, understands all that is within the scope of his intelligence, complies accurately with instructions that are given to him orally, enjoys excellent health. It is only that he cannot produce any articulated sounds” (Weiner, 1986, translation of Coen,1886, p. 227).

Coen described the developmental progression of the childhood language disorders as beginning with mutism, followed by severe articulation problems, and then by problems with grammar (Weiner, 1986)

Coen’s therapy for children with audimutism involved several steps. One involving a “bodily gymnastic”, involving strengthening exercises Coen,1886, p. 230). A second step involved identifying pictures and objects that were named. A third step involved matching sounds spoken to the child with a letter. The child was then asked to produce the sound in isolation. Finally, the child was engaged in general academic instruction involving reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Coen also wrote about stuttering:

Coen, of Vienna (1875), called it the "result of a deficient atmospheric pressure" in the lungs, caused by disturbances of innervation. Later (in 1879) he is quoted as considering it to consist of a breath-spasm due to pathological changes in the respiratory apparatus. Of his first one hundred cases of speech -defects, he reports sixty-seven as stutterers, of which he cured forty, and improved the speech of twenty. His system is mainly an elocutionary one, with the Swedish movements *and electricity as accessories (Potter, 1882, p. 65).

References by and about Coen arranged chronologically

Potter, S. O. L. (1882). Speech and its defects. Considered physiologically, pathologically, historically and remedially. P. Blakiston, Son & Co.

Coen, R. (1886). Pathologie und therapie der sprachanomalien. Vienna: Urban and Schwarzenberg.

Coen, R. (1900) The principles of stuttering. The Laryngoscope, 8, 75-77.

Werner, E. S. (nd). Edgar Werner, an elocutionist who specialized in stuttering, translated excerpts from the works of Coen into English, making Coen’s ideas accessible to those Americans who engaged in speech correction. Werner’s translations appeared in his journal “The Voice” in the following topically separated sections:

Coen, R. (1884). “Stuttering: Its Nature, Causes, Manifestations, Heredity, Prevention and Cure”, Werner’s Journal: v 6, 161;

Coen, R. (1885). ”Cluttering” Werner’s Journal: vol 7, 56-57;

Coen, R. (1886). ”Lisping” vol 8, 73;

Coen, R. (1886). ”Stammering” vol 8, 169-170;

The Voice carried an advertisement for Coen’s practice describing him as the “Principal of the First Institute for Vocal and Speech Diseases”

And, in the the March 1884 (6, 3, p. 41) of Werner’s Magazine, Coen makes the following appeal to speech physicians to gather at a congress:

Merritt, F. (1953). Werner's Magazine: Pioneer speech journal. Unpublished dissertation, Department of Speech, Louisiana State University. https://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/gradschool_disstheses/8120/

Heim, S. & Benasich, A. (2006) Developmental disorders of language. In D. Cicchetti & D. Cohen (Eds.) Developmental psychopathology (2nd ed). Volume 3, Risk, Disorder, and adaptation. (p. 270-271 on Raphael Coen). https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9780470939406.ch7