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Book review: Recovery from Stuttering

10th February 2023

Recovery from Stuttering by Peter Howell (2010): A guide — from a medical model of disability perspective — to the evidence, theories and practical issues associated with 'recovery' from stammering in early childhood and into adolescence.

Review by Katherine Brown

Recovery from Stuttering is a detailed textbook for students or practitioners interested in gaining a deeper understanding of stammering. It compiles extensive research, evidence and thinking, and presents it in four sections, as follows:

Section 1: General Aspects of Developmental Stuttering

This section introduces the reader to stammering. Definitions of stammering, as well as assessment, diagnosis and severity are discussed, as is epidemiology who stammers and whether there are any risk factors associated with stammering. Lastly, symptomology and exactly how stammering may be characterised is considered in detail.

Section 2: Factors Related to Developmental Stuttering Based on Experimental Studies

This section considers why and how people may stammer. Genetic factors are looked at, as well as possible differences in brain and cognitive function. Language and linguistic factors are also discussed in depth, as are motor processes and environmental, personality and emotional aspects.

Section 3: Theoretical Frameworks on Developmental Stuttering

In this section, theories that account for the onset and course of stammering are considered, and different views and models are discussed.

Section 4: Practical Issues in Developmental Stuttering

The last section of the book considers diagnosis and prognosis, and makes a link to clinical practice and therapy.


Recovery from Stuttering provides its readers with a concise compilation of stammering research in its four chosen focal areas, including many important studies, which have shaped our understanding of stammering to this day. Whilst the book is rather heavy in content, introductions and summaries are provided in each chapter to increase its accessibility, and exercises are included to support understanding and encourage critical thinking.

Howell himself explains that his goal in writing this book was to support in-depth understanding, rather than provide a breadth of information. With this in mind, it should be noted that the book's perspective fits the medical model; stammering is referred to as a 'condition' and 'disorder', and the discussion of 'treatments' and 'recovery' runs throughout. So, whilst this book can offer an important grounding in stammering research, further reading from more recent sources and social model perspectives would also be useful, to provide a more rounded and current view of stammering today.

Katherine Brown is a speech & language therapist and member of the STAMMA volunteer book review team.

Recovery from Stuttering by Peter Howell, 2011, (400 pages) is published by Psychology Press.

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