Are children who stutter more anxious than those who don’t?

“We found no evidence that … 11 year old children who stutter were more anxious than those who had recovered from stuttering and nonstuttering controls” – Smith et al. 2017

This study examined anxiety and emotional and behavioural functioning in 11 year old children with persistent stammering, or stuttering. Results showed that the 20 individuals with persistent stammering (2.4% of the study population) were no more anxious than those who had recovered from stammering (n=121, 14.4%) and those who did not stutter (n=702, 83.3%). They also had similar levels of behavioural and emotional functioning.


This study also looked at anxiety in mothers of children who stammer: "Maternal mental health scores" were comparable for mothers of children who had persistent stammering, recovered stammering or no stammering.

An interesting finding was that the persistent stammering group had a higher proportion of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or learning difficulties. Authors speculated that this may be because stammering treatment is often not a high priority for children with additional communication and developmental impairments. Further, when therapy is accessed, additional challenges associated with ASD and learning difficulties (e.g., low levels of joint attention and self-monitoring) may limit a child’s successful progression through treatment.


Smith, K. A., Iverach, L., O'Brian, S., Mensah, F., Kefalianos, E., Hearne, A., & Reilly, S. (2017). Anxiety in 11-year-old children who stutter: findings from a prospective longitudinal community sample. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 60(5), 1211-1222. doi: 10.1044/2016_JSLHR-S-16-0035

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