Snyder, G., Williams, M. G., Adams, C., & Blanchet, P. (2020). The Effects of Different Sources of Stuttering Disclosure on the Perceptions of a Child Who Stutters. Language, Speech & Hearing Services in Schools, 51(3), 745–760. https://doi.org/10.1044/2020_LSHSS-19-00059
Stuttering is a speech disorder involving disruptions, or ‘disfluencies’ in a person’s speech. People who stutter are often subject unfounded prejudice and negative stereotypes. People who stutter are often perceived to be quiet, guarded, anxious, and poor communicators. There is growing recognition of the therapeutic role of self-advocacy in stuttering treatment. One such strategy is stuttering self-disclosure, the act of telling someone else that you stutter. Self-disclosure has been found to have positive effects on a stutterer’s quality of life. Telling someone you stutter can be very challenging for a stutterer. Positive impacts have also been reported when a mother or teacher provides the stuttering disclosure on a child’s behalf. Past research has specifically addressed oral stuttering disclosure, but the current study focused on written disclosure.
There were 4 groups in this study: (1) Control participants viewed a 55 second video speech sample of a child who stuttered; the remaining participants view a written statement prior to the video either from the (2) child, (3) mother, or (4) teacher. Participants were then asked to rate the child’s speech skills and personality characteristics. Overall, few effects were found. Ease of listening was rated ‘easier’ when mothers or teachers disclosed. As well, ratings of more ‘calmness’ were found in the case of child or mother disclosure; and ratings of more ‘relaxed’ were found in the case of mother disclosure.
In this study, there was no direct comparison to an oral disclosure condition. As well, the disclosure statement did not provide any information other than stating the person in the video was a stutterer and stuttering might be observed in the video. It is possible that the disclosure statement may not have appeared authentic as something a child would say.
The authors suggest that a written disclosure statement may be used in stuttering treatment as a ‘stepping stone’ towards oral disclosure. For example, a child might write the statement, share it with advocates, practice reciting the statement orally, and then begin sharing it with others orally.