Early Childhood Stuttering I Persistency and Recovery Rates Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 1999
Early Childhood Stuttering I
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ehud Yairi
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Nicoline Grinager Ambrose
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: e-yairi@uiuc.edu
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Fluency Disorders / Speech / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 1999
Early Childhood Stuttering I
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1999, Vol. 42, 1097-1112. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4205.1097
History: Received February 23, 1998 , Accepted March 12, 1999
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1999, Vol. 42, 1097-1112. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4205.1097
History: Received February 23, 1998; Accepted March 12, 1999
Web of Science® Times Cited: 207

The divergent developmental course of stuttering with its two major paths, persistency and spontaneous (unaided) recovery, has been a focus of scientific attention because of its critical theoretical, research, and clinical perspectives. Issues concerning factors underlying persistency and recovery and their implications for early intervention have stirred considerable controversy among scientists. In light of the intense interest, the scarcity of direct essential epidemiological data concerning the magnitude of the two paths and the timing of recovery is problematic. Most past studies have used retrospective methodologies. The few longitudinal studies have been severely limited in scope or objective data. The purpose of the investigation reported herein is to study the pathognomonic course of stuttering during its first several years in early childhood with special reference to the occurrence of persistent and spontaneously recovered forms of the disorder. Employing longitudinal methodology with thorough, frequent periodic follow-up observations, multiple testing, and recording of extensive speech samples, 147 preschool children who stutter have been closely followed for several years from near the onset of stuttering. In this, the first of three related articles, we present findings regarding the current stuttering status of 84 of these children, who have been followed for a minimum of 4 years after their onset of stuttering. The data indicate continuous diminution in the frequency and severity of stuttering over time as many children progressed toward recovery. Our findings lead to conservative estimates of 74% overall recovery and 26% persistency rates. The process of reaching complete recovery varied in length among the children and was distributed over a period of 4 years after onset. Detailed analyses of phonological and language skills pertaining to differentiation of the developmental paths of children who persist and those who recover are presented in the two other articles in the series (E. P. Paden et al., 1999, and R. V. Watkins et al., 1999).

This research was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant # 2 R01 DC00459, Principal Investigator: Ehud Yairi. The authors are indebted to the many children and parents who have participated in this longitudinal investigation. We also wish to acknowledge the contributions, in many forms, of the graduate assistants who were part of this project; the long-term assistance with various computer issues provided by Mark Joseph; the excellent cooperation provided by Dr. Patricia Zebrowski, Associate Editor of JSLHR, and other editorial staff; as well as the patience demonstrated by Dr. Dale Metz, Editor.
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