Anxiety of children and adolescents who stutter: A review

Kylie A. Smith*, Lisa Iverach, Susan O'Brian, Elaina Kefalianos, Sheena Reilly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: Adults who stutter have heightened rates of anxiety disorders, particularly social anxiety disorder, compared with non-stuttering controls. However, the timing of anxiety onset and its development in relation to stuttering is poorly understood. Identifying the typical age of anxiety onset in stuttering has significant clinical implications and is crucial for the management of both disorders across the lifespan. The present review aims to determine the scope of the research pertaining to this topic, identify trends in findings, and delineate timing of anxiety onset in stuttering. Methods: We examine putative risk factors of anxiety present for children and adolescents who stutter, and provide a review of the research evidence relating to anxiety for this population. Results: Young people who stutter can experience negative social consequences and negative attitudes towards communication, which is hypothesised to place them at increased risk of developing anxiety. The prevalence of anxiety of young people who stutter, and the timing of anxiety onset in stuttering could not be determined. This was due to methodological limitations in the reviewed research such as small participant numbers, and the use of measures that lack sensitivity to identify anxiety in the targeted population. Conclusions: In sum, the evidence suggests that anxiety in stuttering might increase over time until it exceeds normal limits in adolescence and adulthood. The clinical implications of these findings, and recommendations for future research, are discussed.Educational Objectives: The reader will be able to: (a) discuss contemporary thinking on the role of anxiety in stuttering and reasons for this view; (b) describe risk factors for the development of anxiety in stuttering, experienced by children and adolescents who stutter (c) outline trends in current research on anxiety and children and adolescents with stuttering; and (d) summarise rationales behind recommendations for future research in this area.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-34
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Fluency Disorders
Volume40
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Children
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Stuttering

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