Your child is approaching school age. Treatment is likely
to be most effective before a child turns six.
You are concerned about your child’s level of fluency.
Whilst there’s no magic wand that can be waved to
make early childhood stuttering stop, there are treatment
programmes, which can result in a complete recovery when
they are provided at the right time. Stuttering treatments
generally fall into two categories:
direct modification of speech
indirect therapy
Direct modification of speech is generally considered
to be a more difficult form of therapy since it requires the
person who stutters to learn how to control their stuttering
using various techniques, such as smooth speech, prolonged
speech and naturalness. As you can imagine, this can be
difficult for a pre-school child to achieve.
Indirect therapy refers to changes that can be made to
a child’s behaviour and environment that lead to stutter-
free speech without the child being required to modify their
own speech. This form of treatment is considered to be the
most effective in the pre-school years since improvement in
fluency is not really within the child’s control yet. Indirect
therapy in some countries involves the use of parent
counselling and manipulation of a child’s environment.
In other countries it involves the implementation of
programmes such as The Lidcombe Program and Family
Interaction Therapy.
Of all the treatment programmes available for young
children who stutter, The Lidcombe Program has been
found to be the most effective. In this programme, parents
give feedback about stuttering and stutter-free speech
during conversations with their children. In the case of
stutter-free speech, parents may acknowledge or praise (eg,
No bumps there”, “That was lovely smooth talking”), or
they may request self-evaluation from the child (eg, “Was
that smooth?”). In the case of stuttered speech, parents may
acknowledge the stuttering (eg, “That was a stuck word”) or
request self-correction (eg, “Try it again without the stuck
word”). Parents need to be positive and supportive, and
children must enjoy the treatment, and care is taken that
parental feedback is not constant, intensive or invasive.
It is important that the treatment does not interfere
with the child’s communication. The treatment should
occur as a background to a child’s everyday life – it must
fit in with, not be imposed on, daily childhood activities.
When tested, the results from the Lidcombe Program are
the most stable, consistent and easily replicated.
A common misconception of stuttering therapy is that
it is boring, slow, too difficult for young children to achieve
and that the results are hard to see. However, when the
right therapy is chosen and implemented at the right time,
stuttering treatment for pre-school children is fun, simple
and effective, and can be reduced slowly over time as the
child overcomes the challenge.
Research shows that parents
are actually the best people
to help their children recover
from stuttering. As a result,
parents play a key role in
many stuttering treatments.
Summer 2013