Young stutterers' speech behaviors during conversations with their mothers

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Sciences and Disorders


Edward G. Conture


Speech therapy, Preschool education

Subject Categories

Speech Pathology and Audiology


The speaking rates, turn-switching pauses and interrupting behaviors of mothers and their stuttering children versus mothers and their nonstuttering children during conversation were examined. The relations of these behaviors to the children's productions of speech disfluencies were also investigated. Subjects were 13 boys who stutter (mean age = 4:0) and their mothers, and 13 normally fluent boys (mean age = 4:0) and their mothers. Mothers of normally fluent children were found to use significantly faster rates of speech than either group of children. No significant differences were found between the two groups of children or two groups of mothers for any of the three speaking variables. Stuttering children produced significantly more within-word and total disfluencies than normally fluent children. For all speakers combined, strong positive correlations were found between speaking rates and the duration of turn-switching pauses. Strong positive correlations were found between stuttering children's Stuttering Severity Instrument (an index of stuttering severity) scores, and the durations of the overlapping portions of their mothers' interruptions. Findings suggest that: (1) mothers may adjust the demands of their speaking models in response to their children's demonstrated capacities for fluent speech, and (2) mothers and children may adjust their speaking behaviors in order to maintain temporal equilibrium within their conversational interactions.


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