Blurred lines: Typical versus Clinical Profiles of Speech Disfluency
Courtney T Byrd
Speech disfluencies provide valuable insight into the linguistic and motoric effort required for spoken communication. Expressions such as “second language fluency” and “word fluency” tasks reflect this concept. The types and frequencies of speech disfluencies children produce can be an index of language ability. Breakdowns in speech fluency are more likely when children attempt to produce utterances at the leading edge of their emerging linguistic capacity. Additionally, bilingual children appear to experience elevated levels of disfluency as they navigate multiple language systems, with potentially unequal levels of proficiency. Interestingly, there appears to be a critical behavioral overlap between what is considered typical and what is considered to be atypical in the disfluent speech among typically-developing monolingual and bilingual speakers and those speakers of one or more languages who present with a fluency disorder. This documented overlap makes it critical to determine if there are distinctive, qualitative and/or quantitative disfluent speech behaviors that differentiate language-typical mono-/bilingual children from matched peers with stuttering. The present talk will review the behaviors unique to stuttering in speakers of one or more language and the behaviors that overlap across typically fluent mono-/bilingual speakers and mono/bilingual speakers who stutter. From a theoretical perspective, identification of overlapping and distinguishing behaviors could serve to demonstrate the relative contributions of linguistic proficiency, linguistic planning, and speech motor control to fluency breakdowns in differing populations. From a clinical perspective, identification of behaviors that differentiate the behaviors characteristic of typical disfluency and stuttering in monolingual and bilingual speakers will enhance differential diagnosis across these speakers of one or more languages.
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