Objective: The purpose of this study was to see whether participants who persist in their stutter have poorer sensitivity in a backward masking task compared to those participants who recover from their stutter.
Design: The auditory sensitivity of 30 children who stutter was tested on absolute threshold, simultaneous masking, backward masking with a broadband and with a notched noise masker. The participants had been seen and diagnosed as stuttering at least 1 year before their 12th birthday. The participants were assessed again at age 12 plus to establish whether their stutter had persisted or recovered. Persistence or recovery was based on participant's, parent's and researcher's assessment and Riley's [Riley, G. D. (1994). Stuttering severity instrument for children and adults (3rd ed.). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.] Stuttering Severity Instrument-3. Based on this assessment, 12 speakers had persisted and 18 had recovered from stuttering.
Results: Thresholds differed significantly between persistent and recovered groups for the broadband backward-masked stimulus (thresholds being higher for the persistent group).
Conclusions: Backward masking performance at teenage is one factor that distinguishes speakers who persist in their stutter from those who recover. Education objectives: Readers of this article should: (1) explain why auditory factors have been implicated in stuttering; (2) summarise the work that has examined whether peripheral, and/or central, hearing are problems in stuttering; (3) explain how the hearing ability of persistent and recovered stutterers may differ; (4) discuss how hearing disorders have been implicated in other language disorders.