Researchers clarify position on stuttering treatment for children

Australian researchers Ann Packman and Mark Onslow have published a letter in the journal The Asha Leader, clarifying a letter regarding research done in 2013. The study examined stuttering in preschool children and the application of speech therapy such as the Lidcombe program, and was reported on by this website. The letter is as follows:

We wish to correct any misunderstandings arising from an October letter (“Early Intervention for Stuttering: A Time for Grassroots Advocacy”) regarding a recent article on the development of stuttering in an Australian community cohort. We are co-authors on this article, which reports on an ongoing study that is following all children in a community cohort from age 8 months. In this article, we report that children who had started to stutter by age 4 years were—as a group—similar in temperament and quality of life to the children who had not started to stutter. This is likely due to the fact that the study is community-based, not clinic-based.

We do not say that treatment should be withheld from individual children who start to stutter. On the contrary, we report the following clinical guidelines for intervening with the Lidcombe program from “The Lidcombe Program of Early Stuttering Intervention: A Clinician’s Guide” (Pro-Ed):

  • Waiting a year after onset may not reduce responsiveness to the program.

  • However, children should be monitored and the program implemented immediately if the child and/or family show signs of distress.

These guidelines are evidence-based, as the Lidcombe program is the only treatment for early stuttering that has been evaluated in randomized controlled trials.