A Different Reason For Stuttering

This 2006 article from a team at Vanderbilt University takes a new look at the cause of stuttering.1

TheProblem

Stuttering is a disorder that keeps a person from speaking fluently. People who stutter hesitate or repeat words. There is reported to be 3 million people have this disorder and it can be mild or debilitating to the point of making social interaction very uncomfortable or stressful. Males are four times more likely to stutter than females.2

Many people have long speculated on the cause of stuttering. I was thought to be because of poor parenting or mental illness. Although these causes have proven to be false no one has discovered the true cause of stuttering. People have focused on its treatment using speech therapy and although most children recover from stuttering, there are times when the condition seems to get better or worst.

A New Solution?

A team from Vanderbilt University had a different way of looking at the cause of stuttering. They believed that it could be related to the reactions of children to stressful situations.

The team worked with families of 121 children. The children were given a set of lab tests to determine their language use and speech abilities. This was done to ensure that the only impairment of the children is the stuttering

The parents were split into two groups. One group of 65 parents had children who stuttered and another group of 56 parents had children who did not stutter. The parents completed a 100 question survey designed to determine how children reaction to emotional situations and how well they control their emotions.

Findings

Once the surveys were completed the team discovered that there were three major differences between the children who stuttered and those who do not.

1. Twenty-five percent of the children who stuttered were less likely to control their reactions to common events.
2. Twenty-five percent of the children who stuttered were less able to refocus their attention once distracted or upset.
3. Thirty-three percent of the children who stuttered were less able to focus once aroused.

Students who stuttered were likely to be able to control their emotions or reactions to positive or negative stress. This may explain the reason for stuttering that gets better and worst through the course of time and than disappears.

Footnotes

1Karrass, J., Walden, T., Conture, E., Graham, C., Arnold, H., Hartfield, K. and Schwenk, K. (2006) Relation of emotional activity and regulation to childhood stuttering. Journal of Communication Disorders. (39), #6, p. 402-423.
2 Karrass, J.,Walden, T., Conture, E., Graham, C., Arnold, H., Hartfield, K. and Schwenk, K. (2006) Relation of emotional activity and regulation to childhood stuttering. Journal of Communication Disorders. (39), #6, p. 411.
3This page added by Angela Ramsey-Lockhart