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Family characteristics of stuttering children

DOI: 10.2298/sarh0812629s

Keywords: family , children , stuttering

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Abstract:

INTRODUCTION Stuttering is a functional impairment of speech, which is manifested by conscious, but nonintentionally interrupted, disharmonic and disrhythmic fluctuation of sound varying in frequency and intensity. Aetiology of this disorder has been conceived within the frame of theoretical models, which tend to connect genetic and epigenetic factors. OBJECTIVE The goal of the paper was to study the characteristics of the family functioning of stuttering children in comparison to the family functioning of children without speech disorder, which confirmed the justification of the introduction of family orientated therapeutic interventions into the therapy spectrum of child stuttering. METHOD Seventy-nine nucleus families of 3 to 6 year-old children were examined; of these, 39 families had stuttering children and 40 had children without speech disorder. The assessment of family characteristics was made using the Family Health Scale, an observer-rating scale which according to semistructured interview and operational criteria, measures 6 basic dimensions of family functioning: Emotional State, Communication, Borders, Alliances, Adaptability & Stability, Family Skills. A total score calculated from the basic dimensions, is considered as a global index of family health. RESULTS Families with stuttering children compared to families with children without speech disorder showed significantly lower scores in all the basic dimension of family functioning, as well as in the total score on the Family Health Scale. CONCLUSION Our research results have shown that stuttering children in comparison with children without speech disorder live in families with unfavorable emotional atmosphere, impaired communication and worse control over situational and developmental difficulties, which affect children's development and well-being. In the light of previous research, the application of family therapy modified according to the child's needs is now considered indispensable in the therapeutic approach to stuttering children. The assessment of family characteristics with special reference to the ability of parents to recognize specific needs of children with speech disorder and adequate interaction, as well as readiness of parents for therapeutic collaboration are the necessary elements in legal custody evaluations.

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