Investigation of the awareness and perceptions of stuttering in children who do and do not stutter
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the awareness of stuttering in children ages three through seven who do and do not stutter, and to examine how their awareness might contribute to negative perceptions of persons who stutter. Participants included 12 children who stutter and 16 children who do not stutter. Each participant observed a 90-second Digital Versatile Disc (DVD) of two seal puppets employing appropriate turn-taking skills during a conversation. In this video, each puppet produced eight identical sentences. One puppet produced typically fluent speech characteristics. The other puppet produced disfluent speech characteristics. The participants answered 14 discrimination, self-identification, labeling, and evaluation questions to examine the awareness, perceptions, and social perceptions of stuttering. The participants were asked to identify with the puppet (fluent or disfluent) whose speech characteristics were most similar to their own. They also evaluated the puppets' use of disfluent and fluent speech to further examine personal responses to stuttering and determine whether specific characteristics of participants' stuttering patterns elicited negative peer responses. Results indicated no significant difference between the children who stutter and the children who do not stutter across the following measures: (1) awareness of stuttering, (2) perceptions of stuttering, and (3) social perceptions of stuttering. However, participants demonstrated emerging awareness that influenced negative perceptions of stuttering, as evidenced within each of the fluency groups. The percentage of children with an awareness of stuttering and resulting perceptions of stuttering was not significantly different from those participants with a limited awareness of stuttering. Analyses of individual fluency groups confirmed that awareness of stuttering impacted one's speech perceptions of stuttering, which influenced social perceptions of stuttering.
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