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J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2010 Dec;53(6):1478-95. doi: 10.1044/1092-4388(2010/08-0150). Epub 2010 Jul 19.

Spontaneous regulation of emotions in preschool children who stutter: preliminary findings.

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Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, James Madison University, HHS 1147, MSC 4304, Harrisonburg, VA 22801, USA.



Emotional regulation of preschool children who stutter (CWS) and children who do not stutter (CWNS) was assessed through use of a disappointing gift (DG) procedure (P. M. Cole, 1986; C. Saarni, 1984, 1992).


Participants consisted of 16 CWS and CWNS (11 boys and 5 girls in each talker group) who were 3 to 5 years of age. After assessing each child's knowledge of display rules about socially appropriate expression of emotions, the authors asked the children to participate in a DG procedure. The children received a desirable gift preceding the first free-play task and a disappointing gift preceding a second free-play task. Dependent variables consisted of participants' positive and negative expressive nonverbal behaviors exhibited during receipt of a desirable gift and disappointing gift as well as conversational speech disfluencies exhibited following receipt of each gift.


Findings indicated that CWS and CWNS exhibited no significant differences in amount of positive emotional expressions after receiving the desired gift; however, CWS--when compared with CWNS--exhibited more negative emotional expressions after receiving the undesirable gift. Furthermore, CWS were more disfluent after receiving the desired gift than after receiving the disappointing gift. Ancillary findings also indicated that CWS and CWNS had equivalent knowledge of display rules.


Findings suggest that efforts to concurrently regulate emotional behaviors and that speech disfluencies may be problematic for preschool-age CWS.

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