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J Fluency Disord. 2014 Mar;39:12-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jfludis.2013.10.003. Epub 2013 Nov 20.

Phonological encoding of young children who stutter.

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Department of Communication Science and Disorders, University of Pittsburgh, 4033 Forbes Tower, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Communication Science and Disorders, University of Pittsburgh, 4033 Forbes Tower, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA.



Several empirical studies suggest that children who stutter, when compared to typically fluent peers, demonstrate relatively subtle, yet robust differences in phonological encoding. Phonological encoding can be measured through the use of tasks that reflect the underlying mechanisms of phonological processing, such as phonological awareness. This study investigated the phonological encoding abilities of five- and six-year old children who stutter.


Young children who stutter were paired according to language ability, maternal education, and sex to their typically fluent peers. Participants completed multiple measures of phonological awareness abilities (i.e., sound matching, phoneme blending, elision), as well as measures of expressive and receptive vocabulary and articulation.


Young children who stutter performed significantly less well than nonstuttering peers on tasks of elision and sound blending. No between-group differences were found in sound matching abilities or in any of the background language measures.


Results suggest that young children who stutter have subtle, yet robust, linguistic differences in certain aspects of phonological encoding that may contribute to an unstable language planning system in young children who stutter.


The reader will be able to: (a) describe how phonological awareness can inform our understanding of phonological encoding; (b) summarize the findings of previously published studies that examined some aspects of phonological awareness in children who do and do not stutter; and (c) compare the results of the current study with other investigations of phonological awareness skills in children who stutter and their typically fluent peers.


Phonological awareness; Phonological encoding; Stuttering

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