Language Ability and Stuttering in Young Children

The scholarly literature reveals a relatively longstanding view of the child who stutters as more likely to have language learning difficulties or impairments than typically developing peers. Through analysis of spontaneous language sample data, a group of scholars has empirically evaluated the expressive language abilities of a large cohort of young children who stutter (Watkins and Yairi, 1997; Watkins, Yairi, and Ambrose, 1999). The Illinois Stuttering Research Project has prospec-tively tracked a group of young children who stutter, beginning as near stuttering onset as possible and continuing longitudinally for a number of years to monitor persistence in versus recovery from stuttering. This work has focused on expressive language abilities, comparing the performance of young children who stutter with normative expectations on a range of language sample measures, such as mean length of utterance (MLU, a general index of grammatical ability), number of different words (NDW, a general measure of vocabulary skills), and Developmental Sentence Score (DSS, an index of grammatical skills). The researchers found that, as a group, children who stutter perform at or above normative expectations in their expressive language skills. More specifically, Watkins, Yairi, and Ambrose (1999) reported data based on analysis of 83 preschoolers who stuttered. Children who entered the study between the ages of 2 and 3 years (i.e., exhibited stuttering onset between ages 2 and 3 years) scored about 1 SD above normative expectations on several expressive language measures calculated from spontaneous samples. Children who entered the study between the ages of 3 and 4 years or 4 and 5 years performed at or near normative expectations. Interestingly, the children whose stuttering would ultimately persist (roughly 25% of the total sample) did not differ in expressive language skills from the children who would later recover from stuttering, when their language skills were compared near the time of stuttering onset. Figure 1 provides a sample of the findings of Watkins, Yairi, and Ambrose (1999), showing the MLU for children who entered the longitudinal study at three different age groupings relative to normative expectations.

The findings of several other investigators lend support to these results regarding expressive language skills

Prevent Stuttering

Prevent Stuttering

Are You Suffering From Social Withdrawal? Do People Shun Or Ostracize You Because You Have A Hard Time Getting Some Of Your Words Out? Or Does Your Child Get Teased At School Because They Stutter And Cant Speak Like Everyone Else? If you have answered yes to any of the above, then you are in the tiny percentage of people that stutter.

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