What are the different aspects of stuttering that influence each other in complex ways?
Stuttering involves affective, behavioral, and cognitive aspects that interact in complex ways (Bloodstein, Bernstein Ratner, & Brundage, 2021). The affective reactions to the challenges of stuttering can lead to speaking-related fear and anxiety. This might involve fear of stuttering in certain speaking situations or worrying about how listeners will react to the stuttering. The behavioral aspects of stuttering include stuttered speech, muscular tension, and secondary behaviors. These behaviors can be influenced by the affective reactions, as fear and anxiety may increase muscular tension and make stuttering more likely. Cognitive aspects of stuttering involve anticipation, avoidance, and attitudes about one's communication skills and stuttering. For instance, a person who anticipates difficulty in a particular speaking situation may avoid it altogether. These cognitive factors, in turn, can be affected by negative listener reactions, leading the person who stutters to further avoid certain speaking situations. This interconnectedness of affective, behavioral, and cognitive aspects can result in negative psychosocial impacts over time, especially in the lives of children who stutter.
This Ask the Expert is an excerpt from the course, 20Q: Consensus Guidelines for the Assessment of Stuttering Across the Lifespan, authored by Shelley B. Brundage, PhD CCC-SLP, BCS-F, ASHA Fellow.