Preschool Stuttering: My feelings on Lidcombe Program for Stuttering

Happy Day 3 of Stuttering Awareness Week…

In the early years  upon first becaming a speech pathologist I was never sure the exact approach to treat childhood stuttering. I also believed in a model called demands and capacity which was developed by Woody Starkweather.  It basically states the more demands you can decrease in a child’s life the more capacity for fluent speech. For example, if  a child has siblings and they are all competing for their parent’s attention than the capacity for fluent speech diminishes because they have to rush to get the words out. The home environment  often does play a role in stuttering.  Changing the environment might not stop stuttering but it will help the child feel more comfortable speaking.

Over ten years ago I was trained in the Lidcombe Program.  (btw-Lidcombe is a suburb in Australia). I was very eager to learn a more structured way of working with children who stutter and had read rave reviews. I love any opportunity to spend 1 on 1 time with our children, which this program stresses. Let me say my approach is Lidcombe but like any experienced speech pathologist I  do not follow canned programs.  I adapt to fit the child’s needs. There are times I have had to implement a fluency strategy.

The changes I have seen in children stuttering severely are amazing and many do not stutter anymore.    Some stutter mildly and the ones that continue to stutter seem to be healthier communicators but I can only speak for the ones I have treated.  I have been asked how do I know who would have outgrown stuttering anyway? Honestly I do not but I do know a child who is prolonging sounds, repeating words ten times and unable to speak needs help. Also if parents are worried it is helpful to seek a consult to learn how to help at home.

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