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Predicting Stuttering

February 23, 2011

Researchers are trying to predict which children will become persistent stutterers in order to provide them with needed speech therapy.



Stuttering comes center-stage…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

KING GEORGE VI (From The King’s Speech motion picture):

“The nation believes that when I speak, I speak for them. But I can’t speak.”


In the recent film, The King’s Speech, King George VI struggles to address his people because of a persistent stutter he developed as a small child. According to speech neurophysiologist Anne Smith of Purdue University, only about half of all children who develop a stutter continue to stutter later in life. Her team is trying to determine which factors are predictive of persistent stuttering.

ANNE SMITH (Purdue University):

We’re seeing that the stuttering children are lagging the non-stuttering children in terms of their oralmotor coordination for speech. We’re hoping we can come up with some relatively simple tests.


She says the research will be used to help identify which children should be targeted for speech therapy. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.