An examination of anxiety and communication apprehension in preschool children who stutter
Thesis DisciplineSpeech and Language Therapy
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Speech and Language Therapy
People who stutter (PWS) tend to have increased levels of anxiety compared to people who do not stutter (PWNS), particularly in social situations (Messenger, Onslow, Packman, & Menzies, 2004). In addition, children who stutter (CWS) as young as 3 years of age reportedly have more negative communication attitudes than their fluent peers, and these attitudes appear to worsen with age and stuttering severity (De Nil & Brutten, 1990, 1991; Vanryckeghem, Brutten, & Hernandez, 2005). The present study sought to examine generalized anxiety and communication apprehension in preschool CWS. Seven CWS aged between 3;3 and 4;11 years, and seven sex and age-matched children who do not stutter (CWNS) provided salivary cortisol samples at three distinct sampling times across a one-week period. They additionally provided a conversational speech sample, and were administered the Communication Attitude Test for Preschool and Kindergarten Children Who Stutter (Vanryckeghem & Brutten, 2007). Parents were required to complete the Preschool Anxiety Scale (Spence & Rapee, 1999) to provide estimates of their child's anxiety level. Results revealed no significant differences between CWS and CWNS in generalized anxiety or communication apprehension. No relationships were found between stuttering severity and generalized anxiety or communication apprehension either. Thus, it is concluded that generalized anxiety and communication apprehension are not associated with early childhood stuttering. Any changes in anxiety levels are likely to occur with increased chronological age and stuttering chronicity.