Cross-cultural investigation of children’s awareness and perception of stuttering



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Stuttering is a universal phenomenon that has been identified in ethnic and cultural groups around the world. While it has been suggested that attitudes toward stuttering are different for various cultural groups, knowledge of, and attitudes toward stuttering have not been studied extensively across cultures. The purpose of the present study was twofold: (1) to investigate the awareness and perception of stuttering for American children age 3 to 7 from diverse cultures, and (2) to compare those to findings of awareness and perception of stuttering for children from Israel and America. Sixteen children in four different age groups were asked to complete three different types of experimental tasks after watching a video of fluent and disfluent identical seal puppets. The participant’s awareness of disfluency was assessed through discrimination between fluent and disfluent speech and identification of the puppet who spoke like them. Perception was addressed through labeling and evaluation of fluent and disfluent speech. Results revealed that at as young as age 3 some children began to demonstrate accurate awareness of disfluent speech. However, the highest level of accuracy was not demonstrated in the majority of participants until age 7. In addition, results further revealed across all age groups that children were more accurate when discriminating between fluent and disfluent speech than identifying it. Similarities and differences between previous studies that have used the same experimental stimuli (i.e., Ambrose & Yairi, 1994; Ezrati-Vinacour et al., 2001) are discussed. The lack of diverse cultural participants and its resulting effects on the present study’s recruitment methodologies are also discussed.