Treatment for stuttering with syllable-timed speech
Westmead Program for Stuttering Treatment
The Westmead Program is a type of syllable timed speech technique which involves sentences that have the same stress across each syllable. The program is designed for preschool aged children who stutter and can be used with preschool aged children who have not responded to treatment through the Lidcombe program. The Westmead Program directs parents to encourage children to use syllable-timed speech during everyday conversations. This is also known as robot speech or robot talking. The aim is to achieve normal speech and speech that does not sound artificial in any way. Ideally this should be done 4 – 6 times each day for 5 – 10 minutes each time. The parent and child practice syllable-timed speech. Parents may praise their child for using this speech pattern as a way of positive reinforcement. Between sessions parents may also prompt children to uses this technique.
Lidcombe Program for Stuttering Treatment
The Lidcombe program is also a treatment for preschool aged stuttering with a strong evidence base to support it. It is currently the gold standard for treating people with stuttering. The Lidcombe Program is a behavioural 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.
The treatment is administered by a parent or carer 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, observing the parent do the treatment, and giving parents feedback about how they are going with the treatment. This parent training is essential, because it is the speech-language pathologist’s responsibility to ensure that the treatment is done appropriately and is a positive experience for the child and the family.
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. The parent does not comment on the child’s speech all the time, but chooses specific times during the day during which to give the child feedback.
As well as learning how to give feedback effectively, the parent also learns to measure the child’s stuttering each day with a scale from 0 to 9, where 0 is no stuttering, 1 is extremely mild stuttering, and 9 is extremely severe stuttering. At each clinic visit, the speech-language pathologist and the parent discuss at these severity ratings for the previous week to see what effect the treatment is having outside the clinic. This is an essential process to ensure that the treatment works properly.
The Lidcombe Program has two stages.
During Stage 1, the parent conducts the treatment each day and the parent and child attend the speech clinic once a week. This continues until stuttering either is gone or reaches an extremely low level.
Stage 2 of the program – or 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 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 because 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. While the essential features of the treatment as set out in the Lidcombe Program treat guide are always included, the way they are implemented is adjusted to suit each child and family. The Lidcombe Program Treatment Guide can be downloaded free of charge by clicking here.
The Camperdown Program for Stuttering Therapy
The aim of the Camperdown Program is to help adults who stutter to speak more fluently. The program was developed by researchers at the Australian Stuttering Research Centre and their colleagues. During the Camperdown Program the person learns a different way of speaking that is known to reduce stuttering.
Stages of the Camperdown Program
The Camperdown Program has four stages.
During Stage One, you will learn the basic skills you need to participate successfully in the program. These include evaluating the severity of your stuttering and learning a different way of speaking that can help you reduce your stuttering.
In Stage Two you will learn how to make your new speech sound more natural and acceptable so that you can use it during your everyday talking.
During Stage Three you will begin using your new speech during your everyday talking.
In Stage Four, you will learn how to maintain control of your stuttering over time.
Each stage will be completed sequentially. You will only have access to the next stage of the program once you have completed all tasks associated with the previous stage. However, you may return to previous stages of the program at any time.
Cheryl Andrews and her colleagues from the Australian Stuttering Research Centre, University of Technology Sydney – ASRC, published the results of their Phase II trial of a syllable-timed speech treatment particularly focused on school-aged children with stutters. This has previously been an age group without an evidence based program for treatment. The results so far appear to be promising. This provides evidence-based speech therapy for school-age children who stutter.
The Westmead Program has a few similar features to the Lidcombe Program such as the number or phases involved in the program and the rating scales used to measure change in stuttering behaviour. Unlike the Lidcombe Program however, the Camperdown program focuses on retraining the pattern of speech as opposed to reinforcing smooth speech over stuttered speech. The Westmead Program may also help those people who stutter and have not responded to the Lidcombe treatment program.
Contact us for results focused speech therapy
This article was written by our Speech Pathologist Ashleigh Fattah who is a Speech Pathology Australia member. If you have difficulties with speech or would like treatment for stuttering make an appointment. We‘ll provide you with simple and effective therapy targeted to your concerns. Contact us today.
1. Australian Stuttering Research Centre – ASRC
2. Trajkovski N., Andrews C., Onslow M., O’Brian S., Packman A., Menzies R. (2011). A phase II trial of the Westmead Program: Syllable-timed speech treatment for pre-school children who stutter. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 13(6): 500-509. pubmed link
3. Stuttering treatment for school aged children. article link
4. Lidcombe Program for Stuttering. website link
5. Camperdown Program for Stuttering. website link