Language Ability and Stuttering in Young Children

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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

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Stuttering Simple Techniques to Help Control Your Stutter

Stuttering Simple Techniques to Help Control Your Stutter

Discover Simple Techniques to Help Control Your Stutter. Stuttering is annoying and embarrassing. If you or a member of your family stutters, you already know the impact it can have on your everyday life. Stuttering interferes with communication, and can make social situations very difficult. It can even be harmful to your school or business life.

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