The Lidcombe Program is a behavioural treatment for young children who stutter. The program takes its name from the suburb of Sydney where the Australian Stuttering Research Centre is located, at The University of Sydney.

fc-image-4The treatment is done by a parent or carer in the child’s everyday environment. Parents learn how to do the treatment during weekly visits to the Speech Pathologist. During these visits, the Speech Pathologist teaches the parent by demonstrating various features of the treatment, observing the parent do the treatment, and giving the parent feedback about how they are going with the treatment. This parent training is essential, because it is the Speech Pathologist’s responsibility to ensure that the treatment is done appropriately and is a positive 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 is overwhelmingly positive. The parent comments primarily when the child speaks without stuttering and only occasionally when the child stutters. The parent does not comment on the child’s speech all the time, but chooses specific times during the day in which to give the child feedback.

As well as learning how to give feedback effectively, the parent also learns to measure the child’s stuttering by scoring it each day. “0” is no stuttering,”1″ is extremely mild stuttering, and “9” is extremely severe stuttering. At each clinic visit, the Speech Pathologist and the parent look at these severity ratings for the previous week to see what effect the treatment is having outside the clinic. This is an essential process because stuttering has to be fixed outside the clinic in the real world.

The Lidcombe Program is conducted in two stages. During Stage 1, the parent conducts the treatment each day and the parent and child attend the speech clinic once a week. This continues until stuttering either disappears or reaches an extremely low level. Stage 2 of the program starts at this point. The aim of Stage 2 is to keep stuttering away for at least one year. 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 Pathologist takes this into account when supervising the treatment. While the essential features of the treatment as set out in the Lidcombe Program Manual are always included, the way they are implemented is adjusted to suit each child and family.

Source: The Australian Stuttering Resource Centre

For more details about the Lidcombe Program, check the Lidcombe Program Manual and the Australian Stuttering Research Centre.