Guttormsen, Yaruss & Næss (2020): Caregivers’ Perceptions of Stuttering Impact in Young Children: Agreement in Mothers’, Fathers’ and Teachers’ Ratings
I: Journal of Communication Disorders, Online first
Purpose: Prior studies have documented an adverse impact of stuttering on young children’s lives. These studies have relied primarily on parent reports, though different caregivers may have unique experiences with children. To date, no study has examined teachers’ perceptions of the impact in children below six years of age. Moreover, the agreement between mothers, fathers, and teachers in proxy ratings of impact has not been examined. Caregiver agreement is important to investigate because results from varying assessments of adverse impact can influence treatment recommendations. This study sought to gain an integrated insight into 1) teachers’ perceptions and descriptions of the impact of stuttering on young children and 2) agreement in mothers’, fathers’, and teachers’ perceptions of how stuttering affects young children.
Method: The mothers, fathers, and teachers of 35 young children who stutter (aged 2.0-6.0 years) completed the Overall Assessment of the Speaker’s Experience of Stuttering – Caregivers (Parents and Kindergarten Teachers) (OASES-C; Guttormsen, Yaruss, & Næss, 2020). Teachers also responded to open-ended questions about their perceptions of the impact of stuttering on children’s lives.
Results: Overall, teachers perceived stuttering to affect children’s lives to a mild-to-moderate degree. The teachers described communication difficulty and reactions and how these changed across settings in kindergarten. Agreement on the four OASES-C sections and on the total score were calculated for 29 mother-teacher pairs, 29 father-teacher pairs, and 33 mother-father pairs. Results indicate good agreement between mothers and fathers and fair agreement between parents and teachers. Across caregiver pairs, agreement was high (good or excellent) when reporting on observable impact, while agreement was low (fair or poor) on ratings of internal impact.
Conclusion: The finding that teachers also perceive stuttering to have an adverse effect on young children adds to the literature of impact, particularly because the teachers reported observing impact in situations that are unique to the kindergarten setting. In line with previous literature on proxy reporting, our results indicate good agreement between caregivers observing the children in the same arena (mothers and fathers) and fair agreement between caregivers observing the children in different arenas (parents and teachers). The results indicate that information from more than one caregiver can contribute to an integrated assessment of impact across arenas.