Understanding stuttering and how it’s treated

Stuttering is a relatively common speech disorder involving interruptions to the normal flow and clarity of speech. Typically, stuttering presents in children under the age of six but can also develop in adolescents and adults. Sometimes stuttering forms gradually as children learn to create sentences, and in other instances, stuttering can begin overnight.

Regardless of the person’s age or the stutter’s severity, it’s always important to seek professional treatment from a qualified speech pathologist. Early intervention is proven to have the quickest and longest-lasting results. The Lidcombe Program is agreed to be one of the most widely researched stuttering treatments for young children.

What is the Lidcombe Program?
Developed in the Sydney suburb of Lidcombe by the Australian Stuttering Research Centre, the Lidcombe Program is an evidence-based behavioural treatment for children under six. It focuses on positive reinforcement of smooth speech and involves daily practice administered by a parent or caregiver.

How does the Lidcombe Program work?
During the first stage of the Lidcombe Program, parents learn coaching strategies to
implement a daily practice of smooth speech. This involves:
Praising smooth speech;
Acknowledging “bumpy” speech;
Encouraging children to self-correct;
Encouraging children to self-evaluate their speech; and,
Coaching parents to rate stuttering on a scale of 0-9.

In addition to daily practice, both the child and parent also have weekly sessions with their speech pathologist. The weekly sessions will help affirm the home practice, identify any potential concerns, and ensure the program’s effective delivery.

The second phase of treatment involves maintaining smooth speech and is begun when there is minimal or no stuttering present. This entails reducing parent feedback and less frequent clinic visits.

How long will it take?
Each child is unique and brings their own set of personal circumstances to our clinic. Our qualified speech pathologists will be able to provide you with a tailored treatment program specific to your child’s needs. Most children will generally complete the Lidcombe Program in under two years; however, it is essential to remember that results and experiences differ.

Why is treatment important?
While there is no definitive cause or life-long cure for stuttering, experts have found early intervention has the best outcomes. There is research to support that individuals who stutter can experience emotional, social and psychological stress. Therefore, accessing speech pathology services as soon as possible can reduce the impacts.

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