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ERIC Number: ED527283
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 191
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1095-8496-7
Stuttering Behavior and Physiological Stress Profiles: A Preliminary Investigation of School-Aged Children
Ortega, Aishah Y.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The impact of observable increases in stress during moments of stuttering has long been an interesting area of research. Although stuttering type, severity, and associated behaviors may vary widely among individuals, it is not uncommon to find stress management, relaxation, and desensitization incorporated into the therapeutic remediation of stuttering. Though they appear to be related, a causal relation between stuttering and significantly increased stress has not been found. Having previously relied heavily on self-report measures, we find a limited number of studies that have physiologically quantified stress in individuals who stutter. Even less frequent are investigations that target cortisol (a major stress hormone) as a measure of stress in this group; there is no published research that has examined stress hormones in school-aged children who stutter. The purpose of the this investigation was to continue in this vein of scarce research, utilizing stress hormones as a physiological and more precise indicator of the stress response for individuals with a history of stuttering. Moreover, measures of the stress response were updated and broadened to reflect innovative techniques currently utilized in related fields. The application of these new techniques allowed a group of school-aged children, an uninvestigated population, to be included in this project. A total of 9 children (6 boys and 3 girls between 6 and 11 years of age) with a history of stuttering were included in this investigation. Salivary samples were collected four times daily over three consecutive days and measured for two important biomarkers, cortisol and alpha-amylase. Cortisol, considered a gold standard for measures of stress and Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis activity, was paired with a measure of the Sympathoadrenal Medullary System (SAM). Difficult to measure SAM activity (reflecting epinephrine and norepinephrine responses to stress) was indirectly quantified using salivary enzyme, alpha-amylase. Children's salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase levels where compared to standard reference levels established for normal children. It was hypothesized that, in response to normal daily stressors, children with a history of stuttering would be characterized as high autonomic reactors, defined here as having significantly elevated basal cortisol and alpha-amylase levels. Children with a history of stuttering were also expected to possess significantly altered diurnal cortisol and alpha-amylase rhythms. In addition, children reported their emotional state (e.g., sad, happy, anxious, or relaxed) immediately prior to the collection of afternoon and evening salivary samples. It was hypothesized that children's self-reported emotional states would not reflect their physiological activity. As individual reactivity to stressors is also dependent on coping skills, this investigation included children's responses to questions on the Self-Report Coping Scale (Causey & Dubow, 1992), which served as a robust indicator of individual coping strategies. Results revealed that in comparison to published references established for normal children, children with a history of stuttering exhibited mean cortisol and alpha-amylase levels that were significantly lower. Though cortisol and alpha-amylase levels were within normal limits, daily circadian rhythms were generally disrupted for both biomarkers. Children with a history of stuttering tended to report positive emotions prior to submitting afternoon and evening samples and identified "seeking social support" and "self-reliance", "problem solving" as their preferred coping strategies. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A