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Supporting children with stress key to improve stuttering

in understanding the relationship between how children who stutter are affected by and handle emotional stimulation, as well as their ability to control their attention during everyday situations.

To examine this relationship, the researchers used a standardized test of emotions, surveying the parents of 65 3- to 5-year-old children who stutter and 56 children of the same age who do not. The parents filled out a 100-question survey designed to determine how the children react to emotional events and how well they are able to control these emotions. The children participated in two laboratory tests to gauge their language use and speech abilities to ensure that the only speech-language difference between children who do and do not stutter, at least for this study, was restricted to stuttering.

The researchers found three primary differences between young children who stutter and those who do not. The children who stutter were more emotionally aroused by everyday stressful or challenging situations than their non-stuttering peers. It took these children a longer time to settle back down once they had become aroused. And, the children who stuttered were less able to control their attention and were more likely to become fixated on a distraction than the children who do not stutter.

The authors also found that the degree to which children who stutter are able to regulate their emotions, combined with how strongly they react to upsetting or exciting situations, played a role in the frequency, duration and severity of instances of stuttering.

"We have here something of a 'chicken or egg' question, that is, is there a causal relationship between their emotional, behavioral and attention issues and stuttering, or are those two situations just happening at the same time?" Walden said. "Our findings seem to indicate that kids with behavioral and emotional issues are at greater risk of stuttering, that not all aspects of the
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