Helping Preschool Stuttering

Are you looking for support for a young child who stutters? The Lidcombe program may be what you need. It has been developed in Australia through many years of research and is now used all over the world, and it has been proven to be effective in removing stuttering from young children’s speech.

The Lidcombe program has also been proven to be safe and not to impact on children’s relationships with parents who conduct the treatment. Children are often more talkative and confident after the treatment as they are no longer stuttering.

Some children “grow out of stuttering” in the preschool years however research shows that children are seven to eight times more likely to recover from stuttering with treatment than without. Treatment is most effective when begun less than one year from when the stuttering begins and few children grow out of stuttering in this time, so it is best to begin early by contacting a speech pathologist, rather than taking a “wait and see” approach.

The Lidcombe program is based on research and training from the Australian Stuttering Research Program based at the University of Sydney. The program can be run by speech pathologists who have done Lidcombe training in partnership with a parent or career. The treatment should be a positive experience for the child.

The parent and child attend weekly treatment sessions with the speech pathologist who teaches the parent how to do the treatment and then observes the parent working with the child and provides feedback to ensure the parent is doing the treatment correctly. There is also an opportunity to discuss how the treatment is going and home and any concerns the parent may have.

One skill the parent learns in the sessions is how to give feedback to the child about their speech. The feedback directly discusses the child’s speech and stuttering behaviours but this is done in a positive way that encourages the “smooth” speech that the child is sometimes using with the aim of making this occur less often. Occasionally the parent will be required to respond to stutters, and the speech pathologist will support the parent on how and when to do this.

As well as providing feedback to the child about their speech, the speech pathologist will also teach the parent how to keep records of the child’s level of stuttering so that progress can be measured. These records are discussed in weekly therapy sessions to make sure that things are progressing as expected.

The speech pathologist and the parent work together in this way until the stuttering disappears or is at a very low level. Once this occurs the treatment moves into the second stage, which is very important as stuttering can return after treatment. On average children take around 12 appointments to complete the first stage of treatment, though this varies between children and children with very severe stutters can take a little longer.

The second stage means less frequent visits to the speech pathologist but continues until there has been no stuttering, or very little for at least one year. This means that if the stutter does come back it can be dealt with quickly to increase the chance of effectiveness in the long term.

For more information about the Lidcombe program visit the Sydney University Website. 

If your child is stuttering and you haven’t already done so, see your local Speech Pathologist. Talking Matters has speech pathologists trained in the Lidcombe Program. To find out more about speech pathology at Talking Matters, to discuss your child’s specific needs, or book a speech pathology appointment please call us on 82557137.

Talking Matters provides speech pathology and occupational therapy for children. We have a range of service options including individual therapy in our office at bright, child friendly clinic in Elizabeth Downs as well as group programs, in school holidays.

Whether you live locally and can come in and see us, or are further afield and want to make use of our extensive range of free resources, we look forward to sharing our passion for helping kids learn and develop. If you are concerned about your child’s visit the Talking Matters website to see how we can help. Visit our website or call us on 82557137 to find out more.

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Talking Matters Team

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