Date of Award
Communication Sciences and Disorders
For over a century, data have documented fluency disorders and stuttering-like disfluencies (SLDs) in multiple expressive modalities outside of speech, including musical expression, writing, and American Sign Language (ASL). The presence of SLDs in multiple expressive modalities presents the argument that SLDs are not limited to speech. This study specifically surveys fluent ASL signers relative to SLDs, analyzes SLD manifestations, and documents specific examples of stuttering behaviors in ASL.
This study analyzes SLD manifestations in ASL by conducting a survey developed from all known research within the SLD paradigm. Based on all previous research, SLD manifestations are categorized and represented in thirteen survey questions, which are presented in English and ASL; participants are also given the opportunity to comment and share specific first-hand experiences. A total of 295 participants report their observations.
These data documented are shared with two certified interpreters who have a combined experience of 67 years and are also native signers. Analysis reveals specific SLDs within ASL, including repeating, jerky movements, substitution, hesitations, interjections, and postural fixations.
These data support the notion that stuttering is not only a speech disorder. Many manifestations targeted in these data resemble the predicted SLDs, but survey participants also report behaviors resembling cluttering and/or other fluency disorder within the native or fluent ASL community. Further research concerning SLDs in signed languages is needed to further study the phenomenon and create treatment options for signers who stutter.
The lack of awareness surrounding the presence of fluency disorders, specifically SLDs, within signed languages indicates fundamental limitations in the scientific conceptualization of the stuttering phenomenon. This study invites researchers to expand the stuttering research paradigm such that these data can be integrated into the science and treatment of stuttering and other fluency disorders.
King, Katherine, "The Existence of Stuttering-Like Disfluencies in American Sign Language" (2023). Honors Theses. 2858.
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