If you are looking for someone to provide stuttering treatment, we can help. We provide Speech Pathology services in Canberra for children aged 0-6 years and have extensive experience with stuttering treatment using the Lidcombe Program.
What are the causes of stuttering?
Despite extensive research scientists still do not know the exact causes of stuttering. It is common for children with persistent stuttering to have family members who also stutter or did previously stutter as a child.
The latest research has confirmed our observations that stuttering does run in families and has identified biological differences in the structure and function of the brain in the speech region. Scientists have identified 4 genes which may be involved in stuttering and are currently conducting research to learn more.
Research has shown that stuttering is not caused by psychological factors such as stress/anxiety, family dynamics or parenting practises.
If a child has an existing stutter, it is common for this to worsen or spike in severity when they are stressed, tired, excited, or worried.
Types of stuttering?
Stuttering involves an interruption to the flow of speech with repetitive sounds/movements or abnormal ‘fixed’ postures of the mouth and body e.g. blinking. There are three broad types of stuttering (otherwise known as stammering):
Developmental – Begins in childhood between ages 2-5 year, more common in boys. We can provide effective treatment for this condition.
- Syllable repetitions e.g. ‘I am get-get-get-getting’
- Word repetitions e.g. ‘I am-am-am getting’
- Phrase/sentence repetitions ‘I want to-I want to-I want to…’
Blocks (word does not come out)
Prolongations of sounds e.g. ‘geeeet’
Fixed or repetitive postures of the face or body e.g. blinking
Help! My child is stuttering all of a sudden!
Many families are shocked to report their toddler started stuttering overnight and want to know why this has happened. Australian studies show that 8% of children by age 3 have begun stuttering and 12% by four years, usually as they are developing the ability to speak in sentences. The onset can happen gradually or very suddenly and appear literally overnight. Natural recovery can occur within a year of onset. Girls are more likely to recover without treatment than boys and the chance of recovery decreases with time, however it is impossible to predict and rates reported in studies vary widely.
Considerations for beginning treatment
The child is aware of their stutter, or may become upset, or withdrawn when speaking. Research has linked stuttering into adulthood with increased risk of social anxiety disorder (social phobia) and low quality of life, it is important to monitor and promptly respond to changes in psychological health.
The child is experiencing social challenges. Children under 6 often experience teasing and exclusion from peers for their stutter.
The stutter is very severe (a more severe stutter can take longer to treat) and impacts on their ability to communicate effectively.
The child is preschool aged. Stuttering therapy is more effective in preschool aged children than those already in school and should be started in treatment prior to their first year of school if possible. Ideally treatment will be done around the age of 3-6 years.
The Lidcombe program
Australia are world leaders in stuttering research. The Lidcombe Program (the stuttering treatment of choice) was developed in the mid 1980’s and is underpinned by a substantial body of evidence including randomised controlled trails (gold standard) which show excellent long term results.
Note: It is important to that children receive stuttering treatment during the optimal ‘window’ of opportunity, (usually around the age of 4) ideally under the age of 6. Whilst clinical trails have shown it can still be used in older children, the results show it is most effective when used in preschool aged children. Untreated stuttering can last a lifetime and treatment in adolescence and adulthood involves the continuous use of speaking strategies.
We have extensive experience in the delivery of the Lidcombe program, we have worked with many families and a variety of children to successfully help them overcome their stuttering.
The Lidcombe program involves:
Parents learning the treatment in weekly sessions to take home and practise each day.
Parents are trained by the therapist who demonstrates the techniques during play.
Parents give the child feedback during practise sessions each day.
The total number of sessions varies widely depending on the child, stuttering severity and family situation. Research has shown that children require on average between 11 and 23 sessions.