Speaking Rate Characteristicsof Elementary-School-Aged Children Who Do and Do not Stutter

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Journal of Communication Disorders



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To compare articulation and speech rates of school-aged children who do and do not stutter across sentence priming, structured conversation, and narration tasks and to determine factors that predict children's speech and articulation rates.


34 children who stutter (CWS) and 34 age- and gender-matched children who do not stutter (CWNS) were divided into younger (M age = 6;10) and older (M age = 9;6) subgroups. Speech samples were elicited using the Modeled Sentences, Structured Conversation, and Narration tasks from an experimental version of the Test of Childhood Stuttering (Gillam, Logan, & Pearson, 2009). Speech rates (based on both fluent and disfluent utterances), articulation rates (based on only fluent utterances), disfluency frequency, and utterance length were compared across groups and tasks.


CWNS had faster speech rates than CWS. Older children had faster speech rates than younger children during Modeled Sentences, and their Modeled Sentences speech rates were faster than their Structured Conversation and Narration speech rates. Disfluency frequency predicted speech rate better than age or utterance length for CWS and CWNS. Speech rate was negatively correlated with stuttering severity for CWS. Articulation rates for CWNS and CWS were not significantly different; however, older children had faster articulation rates than younger children, and articulation rates for both age groups were fastest during Modeled Sentences.


Results provide age-based reference data for the speech and articulation rates of school-aged CWS and CWNS on three TOCS tasks and offer insight into the relative contributions of age, disfluency frequency, and utterance length to children's rate performance.

Learning outcomes

After reading this paper readers should be able to: (1) summarize the main findings from past studies of children's speech rate and articulation rate; (2) describe how school-aged children who stutter compare to age-matched children who do not stutter with regard to speech rate and articulation rate; (3) explain the extent to which age, speaking task, disfluency frequency, and utterance length affect children's rate performance; (4) discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches to rate measurement.

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