Early childhood stuttering III: Initial status of expressive language abilities

Ruth V. Watkins, Ehud Yairi, Nicoline Grinager Ambrose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This investigation evaluated the expressive language abilities of 84 preschool-age children who stuttered, 62 who recovered from stuttering, and 22 who persisted in stuttering. The participants were identical to those identified in E. Yairi and N. G. Ambrose (1999) and E. Paden, E. Yairi, and N. G. Ambrose (1999). A range of lexical, morphological, and syntactic measures - calculated from spontaneous language samples of approximately 250- 300 utterances in length collected relatively near stuttering onset - were used to examine the children's expressive language skills. For the purpose of analysis and comparison to normative data, children were grouped into three age intervals, in terms of the age at which they entered the study (2- to 3- year-olds, 3- to 4-year-olds, and 4- to 5-year-olds). Findings revealed similarity in the expressive language abilities of children whose stuttering persisted as opposed to abated at all age intervals. In addition, persistent and recovered stutterers displayed expressive language abilities near or above developmental expectations, based on comparison with normative data, at all age intervals. Children who entered the study at the youngest age level consistently demonstrated expressive language abilities well above normative expectations; this pattern was found for both persistent and recovered groups. These findings provide relatively limited information to assist in the early differentiation of persistence in or recovery from stuttering, but they do shed light on theoretical issues regarding the nature and character of early stuttering and potential associations with language learning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1125-1135
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1999


  • Early childhood
  • Language ability
  • Persistence and recovery
  • Stuttering
  • Subtypes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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