If your child begins to stutter during preschool age (2 – 5 years), with effective preschool stuttering treatment there is a very good chance that recovery will happen.
Research shows that about 75% of preschool stuttering children recover spontaneously (without any treatment). Even if your child persists in stuttering after the recovery period (about nine months from onset of stuttering), treatment for preschool children is highly effective and permanent according to the research studies.
An Effective Preschool Stuttering Treatment Program
Research studies during the past 15 years have clearly show that the Lidcombe Program is one of the most effective and well-studied treatments for preschool children who stutter. It is a clinician-directed, parent-implemented behavioral treatment that was developed by Dr. Mark Onslow in Australia. Mark Power was trained and certified by Dr. Onslow in the administration of the Lidcombe program in 2002.
What is the Lidcombe Program?
The Lidcombe Program is a treatment for children who stutter who are younger than 6 years. It may be suitable for some older children. The program takes its name from the suburb of Sydney where the Australian Stuttering Research Centre is located, at The University of Sydney.
This preschool stuttering treatment is administered by a parent or caretaker in the child’s everyday environment. Parents learn how to do the treatment during weekly visits to the speech-language pathologist. During these visits, the speech-language pathologist teaches the parent by demonstrating various features of the treatment. They observe the parent do the treatment and give parents feedback about how they are doing. This parent training is essential because it is the speech-language pathologist’s responsibility to ensure that the treatment is done correctly and is a positive experience for the child and the family.
How it works
The treatment is direct. This means that it involves the parent commenting directly about the child’s speech. This parent feedback needs to be generally positive. The parent comments primarily when the child speaks without stuttering and only occasionally when the child stutters. They do not comment on the child’s speech all the time. The parent chooses specific times during the day during which to give the child feedback.
Keeping Track of Stuttering
The parent also learns to measure the child’s stuttering each day on a scale from 0 to 10. 0 represents no stuttering, 1 is extremely mild stuttering, and 10 is extremely severe stuttering. At each clinic visit, the speech-language pathologist and the parent discuss these severity ratings for the previous week. They determine what effect the preschool stuttering treatment is having outside the clinic. This is an essential process to ensure that the treatment works properly.
The Lidcombe preschool stuttering treatment program has two stages.
During Stage 1, the parent conducts the treatment each day. The parent and child attend the speech clinic once a week or have weekly phone calls with the clinician. This continues until stuttering either is gone or reaches an extremely low level.
Maintenance starts at this time and lasts around a year. The aim of Stage 2 is to keep stuttering from returning. The use of parent feedback to the child during Stage 2 is reduced, as is the number of clinic visits, providing that stuttering remains at the low level it was at the start of Stage 2. This maintenance part of the program is essential. It is well known that stuttering may reappear after a successful treatment. All children and families are different, and the speech-language pathologist takes this into account when supervising the treatment.