Stuttering is a developmental communication disorder that affects approximately one in 20 preschoolers;it typically begins between the ages of 2 and 5 years. Of the preschool children who experience stuttering, approximately 25% will develop a persistent stuttering problem. Because most preschoolers who begin to stutter will recover, parents are typically told to "wait-and-see." However, this is not the best course of action for children who are likely to persist and who would most benefit from immediate treatment. It is critical that these children are identified and receive appropriate treatment to reduce the likelihood that stuttering will become a chronic lifelong disorder. Persistent stuttering in older children and adults can have dramatically negative consequences for the individual's educational, employment, and social opportunities. The goal of this project is to improve our ability to predict persistence or recovery from stuttering when children are 4 and 5- years-old. We will use a variety of physiological and behavioral tests to determine which factors are most important in contributing to persistent stuttering. It is generally agreed among researchers that important factors contributing to the development of persistent stuttering include motor, language, and emotional components. It is also widely accepted that the importance of these components varies among individual children who stutter. Therefore our approach to the problem of predicting risk of persistent stuttering is to find the variables that can be entered ino an equation to predict each child's risk. Examples of these variables include speech motor coordination, linguistic proficiency, and emotional reactivity. A better understanding of the factors producing stuttering in early childhood will allow us then to determine what critical components need to be assessed to predict persistence of stuttering. Another goal of our project is to develop a battery of clinical tests that can be used by the clinician to assess risk or persistent stuttering in preschoolers. This clinical battery would include tests such as standardized language tests, speech motor skill tests, and questionnaires used to assess the child's temperament. If the clinician determines, on the basis of this battery, that the child is likely to persist, he/she can design a treatment program suited to that child's specific needs. For example, a stuttering child who is weak in language proficiency and strongly emotionally reactive to his or her own stuttering would most likely benefit from a different treatment strategy compared to a child with immature speech motor skills and high linguistic proficiency.

Public Health Relevance

This project is directly relevant to the mission of NIDCD due to its focus on improving the ability to effectively diagnose children who are most likely to have chronic communication disorder, identifying the most beneficial treatment strategy for each individual, and equipping clinicians with additional tools to serve children who stutter and their families.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01DC000559-24
Application #
8618889
Study Section
Motor Function, Speech and Rehabilitation Study Section (MFSR)
Program Officer
Shekim, Lana O
Project Start
1988-12-01
Project End
2018-02-28
Budget Start
2014-03-01
Budget End
2015-02-28
Support Year
24
Fiscal Year
2014
Total Cost
$618,072
Indirect Cost
$210,025
Name
Purdue University
Department
Other Health Professions
Type
Schools of Arts and Sciences
DUNS #
072051394
City
West Lafayette
State
IN
Country
United States
Zip Code
47907
Spencer, Caroline; Weber-Fox, Christine (2014) Preschool speech articulation and nonword repetition abilities may help predict eventual recovery or persistence of stuttering. J Fluency Disord 41:32-46
Arnold, Hayley S; MacPherson, Megan K; Smith, Anne (2014) Autonomic correlates of speech versus nonspeech tasks in children and adults. J Speech Lang Hear Res 57:1296-307
MacPherson, Megan K; Smith, Anne (2013) Influences of sentence length and syntactic complexity on the speech motor control of children who stutter. J Speech Lang Hear Res 56:89-102
Weber-Fox, Christine; Hampton Wray, Amanda; Arnold, Hayley (2013) Early childhood stuttering and electrophysiological indices of language processing. J Fluency Disord 38:206-21
Walsh, Bridget; Smith, Anne (2013) Oral electromyography activation patterns for speech are similar in preschoolers who do and do not stutter. J Speech Lang Hear Res 56:1441-54
Hampton Wray, Amanda; Weber-Fox, Christine (2013) Specific aspects of cognitive and language proficiency account for variability in neural indices of semantic and syntactic processing in children. Dev Cogn Neurosci 5:149-71
Sasisekaran, Jayanthi; Smith, Anne; Sadagopan, Neeraja et al. (2010) Nonword repetition in children and adults: effects on movement coordination. Dev Sci 13:521-32
Kaganovich, Natalya; Wray, Amanda Hampton; Weber-Fox, Christine (2010) Non-linguistic auditory processing and working memory update in pre-school children who stutter: an electrophysiological study. Dev Neuropsychol 35:712-36
Smith, Anne; Sadagopan, Neeraja; Walsh, Bridget et al. (2010) Increasing phonological complexity reveals heightened instability in inter-articulatory coordination in adults who stutter. J Fluency Disord 35:1-18
Olander, Lindsey; Smith, Anne; Zelaznik, Howard N (2010) Evidence that a motor timing deficit is a factor in the development of stuttering. J Speech Lang Hear Res 53:876-86

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