Faculty Research and Creative Activity

Document Type


Publication Date

January 1994


People who stutter, especially children, have often been reported to exhibit a wide range of concomitant communication problems including articulation and phonologic deficiencies. This study investigated the relation between the phonologic difficulty of words and the point at which stuttering-like disfluencies occurred in the speech of preschool children identified as having a stuttering problem (n = 24). The children were divided into subgroups according to stuttering severity and phonologic ability. A spontaneous speech sample of approximately 1,000 words was tape-recorded from each child, and perceived disfluencies were identified. The phonologic difficulty of each word on which there was a stuttering-like disfluency and of each fluent word immediately following such a disfluency was categorized. The proportion of words in each child's speech sample that contained each category of phonologic difficulty was determined. The data showed that the proportion of disfluent and immediately following words in each type of phonologic difficulty closely resembled the proportion of words in the speech sample of the same type of difficulty. There were no significant differences between the subgroups of stutterers. We concluded, therefore, that the phonologic difficulty of the disfluent word, and the fluent word following it, did not contribute to fluency breakdown regardless of the childrens' stuttering severity or phonologic ability.