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Helping children handle stress, emotions may help stuttering

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Children who stutter often face greater challenges managing their behavior and emotions than other children, researchers have found, offering new insight into how to help these children in a more holistic way.

"Our findings indicate that young children who stutter are more apt to be emotionally aroused, less able to settle down once aroused and less able to control their attention and emotion during everyday stressful or challenging situations," Vanderbilt University psychologist Tedra Walden, a co-author of the research, said.

"Stuttering, as it continues, can impact a child's academic, emotional, social and vocational potential and development. Therefore, if we know more about how emotions influence stuttering and then use this information to more effectively treat early childhood stuttering, we should be in a better position to decrease the long-term negative effects of stuttering in children as they get older," she continued.

"We have long thought emotional development influenced childhood stuttering; however, until such findings as ours, we've lacked data to support such beliefs," Edward G. Conture, a co-author of the research and director of graduate studies in the Vanderbilt Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, said. "These new findings tell us that when parents tell clinicians, for example, that excitement increases their child's stuttering, clinicians should try to see how and when certain emotional states increase or maintain the child's stuttering. Clinicians need to pay more attention to what parents observe about what impacts their child's stuttering."

In addition to Walden and Conture, the research team included Vanderbilt researchers Jan Karrass, first author of the research, Corrin Graham, Hayley Arnold, Kia Hartfield and Krista Schwenk. The research is in press at the Journal of Communication Disorders and is available online now at

Contact: Melanie Moran
melanie.moran@vanderbilt.edu
615-322-2706
Vanderbilt University
16-Jun-2006


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