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  • Lori Melnitsky

What is the Lidcombe Program For Childhood Stuttering?

What is the Lidcombe Program for Stuttering? (with Lori Melnitsky,  MA CCC-SLP, Stuttering Specialist)


Basic facts:

(Please note this is not a recipe and must be modified with your help)

The Lidcombe Program is a behavioral treatment for children who stutter who are younger than 7 years. It may be suitable for some older children. (ages 8 to 9 with modifications).

The program takes its name from the suburb of Sydney where the Australian Stuttering Research Centre was located.

How is the treatment administered:

The treatment is administered by a parent or caregiver 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 aspects of the treatment, observing the parent do the treatment, and giving parents helpful hints about how they are providing 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/fun 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. It starts out in structured speech.

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. This happens after progress is shown in structured activities.

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 0/1 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 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 or via tele health once a week. This continues until stuttering either is gone or reaches an extremely low level. The program time varies but it can take up to five months.

Stage 2 of the program – or maintenance starts at this time and lasts approximately three months. 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.

These are the basics of the program. It is my job as a speech pathologist to modify the program based upon your child’s stuttering and response to feedback. After working 28 years I use the basis of the program to modify the program as needed.

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