Parents as Partners in Young Children's Stuttering Treatment

Re: negativity and progression of stuttering

From: Ann Bothe
Date: 10/2/00
Time: 3:41:22 PM
Remote Name:


Thanks, Andy – Neat question, and something that I should have made clearer in my little paper. This is extremely similar to the treatment approach that Dr. Onslow and his colleagues call the "Lidcombe Program," yes. Onslow and his colleagues have developed some particular variations, and they get great results (see their papers in JSLHR and in AJSLP). Their variations, and the ones that we are investigating here, and several others that many other people use, can all be traced to the work of Drs. Martin and Siegel and their colleagues from the late 1960s and early 1970s – so they've been around a while! I think one of the most important points in doing something like this, and the reason that a lot of people ask the question you are asking, is that, certainly, we can all imagine ways in which we could tell children that they are stuttering, or ways in which we could stop them when they stutter or ask them to repeat the word fluently or whatever, that would be demeaning or cruel or hurtful or negative or just otherwise a really bad choice! So I think that several things become absolutely critical. First, whenever we correct a child about anything, we do it as positively as possible. It's absolutely possible to tell a child that her speech was incorrect in a way that simultaneously communicates that she is a wonderful human being and that we care about helping her learn, whether we are talking about doing articulation treatment or learning to use "inside voice" instead of "outside voice" or whatever else – so stuttering treatment is just one of many, many examples where learners need to be told when they did it right and when they didn't. Second, keep data. If her stuttering is reducing, and if her affective/emotional/psychological status is fine, then you're doing fine. If you happen to find a child who does not respond to whatever treatment approach you've selected, then you should be trying another one. I will be the first to tell you that if any approach is not working for a particular child after a couple or three months, or if you see any negative anything that you think your treatment caused, then you should stop and try something else, and that applies as much to the treatments I was writing about in this little paper as to anything else. I've never had that problem with these approaches, and I don't think Onslow has with his Lidcombe Program kids, but clearly we look at one kid at a time and change what we're doing if it's not good for that kid. And third, there is a huge difference between parents or teachers constantly badgering children with empty words (stop, slow down, try it again, blah blah blah), which I am more than willing to agree with you could lead to negative feelings for the child depending on how it's done, and parents or clinicians doing specific corrections for specific behaviors in an atmosphere that provides specific information and specific support for the child. It's the difference between nagging and teaching – and the difference between nagging and teaching is often that in nagging we have no expectation that the naggee (??) will actually change her behavior, we're just stuck in a cycle where I say "Did you clean your room yet?" and you say "Aw, mom, I'm gonna, give it a rest" – instead of my saying "This room is not clean. I expect it to be clean by 6:00." (Probably not the best parallel, but I hope you can see what I'm getting at!) Anyhow. I hope I managed to answer your question somewhere in all that, and thanks for asking.

Last changed: September 12, 2005