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J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2017 Jan 1;60(1):51-61. doi: 10.1044/2016_JSLHR-S-15-0367.

A Lag in Speech Motor Coordination During Sentence Production Is Associated With Stuttering Persistence in Young Children.

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Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.



The purpose of this study was to determine if indices of speech motor coordination during the production of sentences varying in sentence length and syntactic complexity were associated with stuttering persistence versus recovery in 5- to 7-year-old children.


We compared children with persistent stuttering (CWS-Per) with children who had recovered (CWS-Rec), and children who do not stutter (CWNS). A kinematic measure of articulatory coordination, lip aperture variability (LAVar), and overall movement duration were computed for perceptually fluent sentence productions varying in length and syntactic complexity.


CWS-Per exhibited higher LAVar across sentence types compared to CWS-Rec and CWNS. For the participants who successfully completed the experimental paradigm, the demands of increasing sentence length and syntactic complexity did not appear to disproportionately affect the speech motor coordination of CWS-Per compared to their recovered and fluent peers. However, a subset of CWS-Per failed to produce the required number of accurate utterances.


These findings support our hypothesis that the speech motor coordination of school-age CWS-Per, on average, is less refined and less mature compared to CWS-Rec and CWNS. Childhood recovery from stuttering is characterized, in part, by overcoming an earlier occurring maturational lag in speech motor development.

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