Emotional Regulation and Its Influence on the Experience of Stuttering Across the Life Span


This study evaluated the relationship between emotional regulation (ER) and adverse impact related to stuttering across the developmental spectrum, in preschool and school age children, adolescents, and adults who stutter. An additional aim examined how these variables relate to the ways that individuals approach speaking (their agreement on whether their goal is to speak fluently). Participants were the parents of 60 preschoolers and younger school age children (ages 3 to 9 years), 95 school age children and adolescents who stutter (ages 7 to 18 years), and 180 adults who stutter (ages 18 to 81 years). All participants completed surveys with age appropriate measures examining ER and the adverse impact of stuttering. Older children and adults who stutter also answered questions regarding their goals when speaking. Multiple regression and ordinal logistic regression were used to examine relationships among ER, adverse impact related to stuttering, and goal when speaking.In preschool children, adverse impact was significantly predicted by a parent-reported measure of ER skills; in school-age children and adults, adverse impact was significantly predicted by measures of the ER strategies cognitive reappraisal (CR) and expressive suppression. Less frequent use of CR by adults was significantly associated with an increased likelihood of having not stuttering as a goal when speaking. Differences in the significance and magnitude of these relationships were found across the life span. For both children and adults who stutter, ER is a significant factor related to the adverse impact of stuttering; the relationship between ER and adverse impact may change over development. Accounting for individual differences in ER can improve understanding of why a person copes with stuttering in the ways they do, and this has notable implications for individualizing intervention for both children and adults who stutter.