The Purdue Stuttering Project

We are a group of scientists, speech-language pathologists, and students who work together to understand how stuttering develops in young children. A surprisingly high (about 5%) number of children go through a period of stuttering in their preschool years. Although, most will “grow out” of it, approximately 25% of these children are at risk for developing a lifelong stuttering problem. In the latest phase of our research, funded by the National Institutes of Health, we are dedicated to finding physiological “signatures” of stuttering that may help determine which children are at greatest risk for persisting. We have developed fun and child-friendly experiments to assess three key areas involved in stuttering: articulatory coordination, language processing, and emotional sensitivity. We will use results of our studies to develop a test battery that a speech therapist can use to determine a child’s risk for developing a chronic stuttering problem. This is an important goal as the current recommendation to parents of young children who begin to stutter is to “wait and see.” Speech-language therapy can have the greatest positive impact on the child if it begins before stuttering behaviors and physiological patterns of stuttering are firmly established.

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