Martin A. Young
D epartment of Speech Pathology and Audiology, Illinois State University
A critical review of research and opinion concerning age of onset, prevalence, a nd recovery from stuttering indicates some inconsistency among findings: the reported recovery rates may be too high, although all data sources had limitations.
Recent research reported by Sheehan and Martyn (1970) and Cooper (1972) suggests that a large proportion of individuals (80%) who once considered themselves stutterers no longer do so, and recovery from stuttering may occur without the intervention of speech therapy. At best, these data have been interpreted to indicate that speech therapy for school-age stutterers had no effect on eventual recovery. At worst, portions of the data revealed that public school speech therapy was negatively associated with recovery from stuttering.
High spontaneous recovery rates for stuttering, if valid, clearly suggest a reevaluation of current therapy approaches. In terms of stuttering theory, high recovery rates would be cause for reconsideration of both medical and behavioral models as possible explanations for stuttering behavior.
Since recovery rates for stuttering are usually based on verbal reports of past events rather than on direct observation, it is i m p o r t a n t that these data be verified by comparison with other information. Prevalence and onset data offer an o p p o r t u n i t y for such comparisons. T o place the literature review that makes up the major portion of this paper into a helpful perspective, some conclusions from that literature may be summarized as follows: (1) onset of stuttering occurs in childhood with essentially no new onsets after nine years of age, (2) prevalencO of stuttering is 0.7% in a school-age population,
(3) recovery from stuttering occurs in 80% of young adults who stutter, and
(4) prevalence of stuttering is