Self-reported impact of developmental stuttering across the lifespan
Boyce, J. O., Jackson, V. E., Van Reyk, O., Parker, R., Vogel, A. P., Eising, E., Horton, S. E., Gillespie, N. A., Scheffer, I. E., Amor, D. J., Hildebrand, M. S., Fisher, S. E., Martin, N. G., Reilly, S., Bahlo, M., & Morgan, A. T.
Self-reported impact of developmental stuttering across the lifespan. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 64
(10), 1297-1306. doi:10.1111/dmcn.15211.
To examine the phenomenology of stuttering across the lifespan in the largest prospective cohort to date.
Participants aged 7 years and older with a history of developmental stuttering were recruited. Self-reported phenotypic data were collected online including stuttering symptomatology, co-occurring phenotypes, genetic predisposition, factors associated with stuttering severity, and impact on anxiety, education, and employment.
A total of 987 participants (852 adults: 590 males, 262 females, mean age 49 years [SD = 17 years 10 months; range = 18–93 years] and 135 children: 97 males, 38 females, mean age 11 years 4 months [SD = 3 years; range = 7–17 years]) were recruited. Stuttering onset occurred at age 3 to 6 years in 64.0%. Blocking (73.2%) was the most frequent phenotype; 75.9% had sought stuttering therapy and 15.5% identified as having recovered. Half (49.9%) reported a family history. There was a significant negative correlation with age for both stuttering frequency and severity in adults. Most were anxious due to stuttering (90.4%) and perceived stuttering as a barrier to education and employment outcomes (80.7%).
The frequent persistence of stuttering and the high proportion with a family history suggest that stuttering is a complex trait that does not often resolve, even with therapy. These data provide new insights into the phenotype and prognosis of stuttering, information that is critically needed to encourage the development of more effective speech therapies.