Acoustic properties of speech under stress in preschool children who do and do not stutter
Previous research has shown that stuttering, a potentially life-altering developmental disorder with typical onset during the preschool years, is linked in severity to temperamental and situational emotionality. Thirty-three participants, aged four to six years old, 14 of whom stutter and 19 of whom do not, provided temperamental measures of emotionality via parent-report surveys. Measures of stress/emotionality were derived from acoustic data (fundamental frequency and jitter) drawn during a card stressor task as part of a larger study. Analyses included correlations between temperamental and acoustic measures of emotionality for all participants, as well as comparisons of temperament data and lab acoustic measures of fundamental frequency and jitter between children who do and do not stutter. Although independent samples t-tests and discriminate function analysis showed no significant difference between the two groups for either temperamental or acoustic data, bivariate correlations for both groups showed significant correlations between temperament measures of emotional reactivity and regulation, and acoustic measures, such as mean jitter and jitter range. Results support acoustic measures as indicators of vocal stress in children who do and do not stutter.
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