A connection between language and stuttering in young children is intuitive. As noted by Yairi (1983) and others (e.g., Ratner, 1997), stuttering first appears in children between ages 2 and 4 years, during a time of rapid expansion in expressive and receptive language ability. Moreover, the repetitions and prolongations that characterize stuttering are observed as the child uses sounds to form words and words to form phrases and sentences. The apparent link between domains has given rise to theoretical accounts of stuttering that emphasize linguistic variables. For example, one working account of stuttering suggests that underlying difficulties with phonological encoding, difficulties that self-correct prior to actual language production but that slow language processing, yield disfluencies (Postma and Kolk, 1993). Linguistic factors are implicated in several other theoretical accounts of stuttering as well (Wingate, 1988; Perkins, Kent, and Curlee, 1991).
Despite the intuitive appeal of connections between language and stuttering, many of the most fundamental questions in this area of inquiry continue to be debated. The language abilities of young children who stutter have been the focus of research and controversy for many years (see Yairi et al., 2001, and Wingate, 2001, for examples of the ongoing dialogue on this topic). In addition to examinations of the language development status of young children who stutter, the connection between language and stuttering in young children has been studied in other ways, namely, through evaluation of linguistic variables that appear to exert an influence on stuttering behavior. Relevant linguistic variables include grammatical complexity and location of stuttering events in the language planning or production process. In both areas, the developmental status of children who stutter and the study of linguistic influences on stuttering, a growing body of knowledge speaks to the associations of language and stuttering in young children. This article highlights key research findings in these areas and summarizes what is known about the interface of language and stuttering in young children.
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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.