Lidcombe Program for treatment of early stuttering.
Fluency disorders, otherwise known as stuttering, affect both children and adults. Stuttering is also referred to as stammering in certain parts of the world. eg. UK. Stuttering is a disorder that affects co-ordination and control of speech movements (Onslow & O’Brian, 2013).
Stuttering is characterised by primary (or core) behaviours and secondary behaviours.
Primary behaviours include:
- Repetition of sounds, syllables, or words
- Prolongation of sounds
- Blocking of airflow or voice during speech
Secondary behaviours are learned reactions to the primary behaviours. They are also termed ‘avoidance’ behaviours. Secondary behaviours may include:
- Interjections of sounds, syllables, or words
- Word revisions or change in words
- Hesitations in speech
- Motor movements or patterns associated with stuttering (e.g hand tapping or eye blinking)
While there is no cure for stuttering, therapy programs (for both adults and children) are available to help manage stuttering behaviours (Bothe, Davidow, Bramlette & Ingham, 2006). Therapy aims to promote fluency and speaking confidence.
A speech pathologist is trained to assess stuttering and provide intervention services. A speech pathologist will consider a variety of factors such as a child’s case history, family history, an analysis of a child’s stuttering behaviours, an assessment of speech and language function and a review the impact of stuttering in a child’s life. As there is no reliable way of knowing which child will have a long-term persistent stutter, it is advised that a child is assessed within 12 months of the stutter onset (Onslow & O’Brian, 2013). There can also be waiting lists for speech pathology services, so it may be worth putting yourself or your child on the list to ensure they are seen within optimal time frames.
The Lidcombe program is a treatment targeting stuttering in children younger than six. The program was developed by the Australian Stuttering Research Centre. It is considered a ‘best practice’ approach to minimising stuttering behaviours.
Lidcombe program is a behavioural treatment for young children who stutter. Key features of the program include:
- There are two stages of treatment.
- The first stage involves weekly clinic visits and daily home treatment sessions. The aim is to implement the treatment until stuttering either disappears or reaches an extremely low level.
- The aim of the second stage is to maintain the improvement achieved in stage one. Treatment is withdrawn and the frequency of clinic visits is reduced overtime as the treatment takes effect.
- During the clinic sessions, the speech pathologist trains the parent in administering the treatment and observes the parent ‘in action’ in doing the treatment. The speech pathologist then gives feedback about how the treatment is implemented.
- Daily treatment is administered by the parent/carer in the child’s everyday environment.
- The speech pathologist is responsible for ensuring that the treatment is completed appropriately.
- The program should be a positive experience for the whole family.
Treatment involves the parent directly commenting on the child’s speech. Feedback given to the child is (and needs to be) predominantly positive. Positive feedback is given when a child demonstrates speech with no stuttering. Feedback is given occasionally when the stuttering occurs.
How long will it take?
Length of treatment depends on the severity of the stutter. Each child will differ in terms of the time required to complete the Lidcombe Program. The average number of clinic visits required to reach the point of minimal stuttering is twelve. There may be additional sessions required to ensure the long term maintenance of the treatment outcomes.
You can read more about the program here at the Australian Stuttering Research Centre website.
If you have questions about early stuttering therapy, contact your local doctor who will arrange for you to see a speech pathologist in Sydney. Contact us today!