Episode 15: My Opinion about How to Treat Stuttering in Young Children

In case you were wondering or were not aware; stuttering and stammering refer to the same thing. 

Are you familiar with stuttering therapy or how stuttering is treated? Please let me know in the comments below with how stuttering is treated. Is it by medication? by therapy? and if therapy, what kind of therapy? I find that I get asked this “speech therapy related question” a lot by parents. Many parents do not seem to know what is involved in therapy treatment for children who stutter. 

There are different techniques used in speech therapy for children who stutter but what is over-aching in all the different treatment approaches is that, if a child is younger or does not have the “experience” or habit of stuttering i.e. they have not been stuttering for a long time, then a behavioural approach to remediating the stutter is applied.

I personally  lean towards the  Lidcombe Program to treat stuttering in young children and this is the program that I use at my speech therapy private practice. 

Lidcombe Program

How to use it to treat stuttering in young children

The Lidcombe program is a behavioural approach that uses the same principles of changing behaviour. That means that it uses the same principle to remediate a stutter as you would to change any other behaviour. The assumption being that the stutter is a habit and that the child can stop. The Lidcombe program has two phases:

1. The treatment phase- Phase 1

2. The maintenance phase – Phase 2

The aim of the treatment phase is to get the child to be stutter free often and the aim of the maintenance phase is to maintain the stutter free phase.

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This treatment program is quite elaborate and I find it really effective because it shapes a new behaviour. 

In this program you apply what is known as verbal contingencies, this means giving feedback to your child when they stutter and when they don’t. Usually, the ratio that is recommended by the Lidcombe program is 5 to 1. I encourage parents to go further and keep the ratio at 10 to 1. Praise (give positive feedback) more than you criticise (give negative feedback). 

And strive to be honest with your feedback. Don’t lie or exaggerate. 

Lorna Muthamia-Ochido, talks about how to treat stuttering in children

The effect of positive feedback on treating stuttering in young children

A child who stutters should receive positive feedback when they’re smooth. This not only boosts their confidence, but it will likely be the only positive words they get to hear about their talking. Positive words also help your child see themselves as more than their stutter; they start to believe that they can be entirely smooth, which improves how they self-monitor themselves during talking and overall, contributes to to them managing their stutter.

Young children below the ages of six usually don’t have their confidence impacted by the stutter which is why this therapy is and should be done early on. The Lidcombe program is very effective for children in this age gap as taking a behavioural approach increases the chance of managing the stutter.

You can read more about the Lidcombe program here.

 Please check out our other videos and blog articles for more resources on how to optimise your child’s communication and overall learning outcomes. 

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Hi, I'm your teacher

Lorna Muthamia-Ochido

I run a family-centred speech-language therapy clinic, the largest in East and Central Africa. I’ve helped 15,000+ children optimise their communication outcomes (in other words, I make children smarter ☺).

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