Recovery from stuttering in preschool-age children: 9 year outcomes in a clinical population
Purpose: The first purpose was to define the recovery rate in children who stutter in a clinical sample, adding self-report to validate recovery status. The second purpose was to explore whether children who were judged to be recovered showed subjective experiences that might be interpreted as coping behaviors used to control speech fluency. Methods: In this longitudinal study, preschool-age children whose parents consulted a speech-language pathologist about stuttering were followed for 9 years. At follow-up, children's self-reports on stuttering were reported, as well as traditional criteria on recovery (parental and expert judgment). The Overall Assessment of the Speaker's Experience of Stuttering (OASES) was used to collect children's experiences with speaking. Results: Eleven of the 15 children (73%) were judged by parents and clinicians to have recovered from stuttering. However, when considering children's self-reports, 9 children (60%) might be considered to have recovered. In addition, 3 children who were judged to be recovered reported experiences with speaking that were uncommon, even compared to children who continued to stutter. Conclusion: In this exploratory study of a clinical population, the recovery rate in children that received treatment for stuttering appeared to be comparable to a non-clinical population. Considering self-reports can improve validity of assessing the “recovery rate”. Moreover, recovery in children may not be effortless; instead, it may be the result of conscious or unconscious coping behavior. Future studies are recommended to consider self-reports to improve validity of recovery, and to document experiences with speaking to explore effortless, spontaneous fluency versus controlled fluency.