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An experiment on measuring awareness of stuttering in individuals with Down syndrome

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

BACKGROUND: Awareness of stuttering is likely to depend upon the development of the metalinguistic skill to discriminate between fluent speech and stuttering and the ability to identify one's own speech as fluent or stuttered. Presently, little is known about these abilities in individuals with Down syndrome (DS). PURPOSE: This study investigates whether individuals with DS and typically developing (TD) children who stutter and who do not stutter differ in their ability to discriminate between fluent speech and stuttering. The second purpose of this study is to discover if this ability is correlated with their self-identification ability. METHOD: An experiment to investigate awareness with tasks for discrimination of stuttering and self-identification was developed. It was administered to 28 individuals (7-19 years) with DS, 17 of them stutter and 11 do not, and 20 TD children (3-10 years), 8 of them stutter and 12 do not. Skills to discriminate stuttering were compared between these groups and correlated with self-identification within these groups. The influence of stuttering severity and developmental/chronological age on their ability to discriminate was also investigated. RESULTS: The ability to discriminate does not differ significantly between the DS and TD group, but is highly influenced by developmental age. This ability correlates with self-identification but only for the TD individuals who speak fluently. CONCLUSION: The ability to discriminate matures around the age of 7 and conscious awareness may rely on this ability. Differences between the present findings and earlier studies suggest that differentiation in levels and types of awareness is warranted.
Journal: Journal of Fluency Disorders
ISSN: 0094-730X
Volume: 68