Early childhood stuttering I: Persistency and recovery rates

Ehud Yairi, Nicoline Grinager Ambrose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The divergent developmental course of stuttering with its two major paths, persistency and spontaneous (unaided) recovery, has been a focus of scientific attention because of its critical theoretical, research, and clinical perspectives. Issues concerning factors underlying persistency and recovery and their implications for early intervention have stirred considerable controversy among scientists. In light of the intense interest, the scarcity of direct essential epidemiological data concerning the magnitude of the two paths and the timing of recovery is problematic. Most past studies have used retrospective methodologies. The few longitudinal studies have been severely limited in scope or objective data. The purpose of the investigation reported herein is to study the pathognomonic course of stuttering during its first several years in early childhood with special reference to the occurrence of persistent and spontaneously recovered forms of the disorder. Employing longitudinal methodology with thorough, frequent periodic follow-up observations, multiple testing, and recording of extensive speech samples, 147 preschool children who stutter have been closely followed for several years from near the onset of stuttering. In this, the first of three related articles, we present findings regarding the current stuttering status of 84 of these children, who have been followed for a minimum of 4 years after their onset of stuttering. The data indicate continuous diminution in the frequency and severity of stuttering over time as many children progressed toward recovery. Our findings lead to conservative estimates of 74% overall recovery and 26% persistency rates. The process of reaching complete recovery varied in length among the children and was distributed over a period of 4 years after onset. Detailed analyses of phonological and language skills pertaining to differentiation of the developmental paths of children who persist and those who recover are presented in the two other articles in the series.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1097-1112
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1999


  • Childhood
  • Development
  • Disfluency
  • Stuttering
  • Subtypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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