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Parents’ experiences of the Lidcombe Program of early stuttering intervention
An Exploration of Parents’ Experiences of the Lidcombe Program of Early Stuttering Intervention.
The Lidcombe Program (LP) is a treatment for early stuttering where parents are shown how to encourage smooth talking and also gently help their child smooth their stutters or ‘bumpy’ words. Quantitative studies, involving larger numbers of children, have shown that the LP can lead to normally fluent talking in many children when therapy is started before the age of seven. These studies have not investigated what it is like to receive the LP.
We explored the experiences of 14 parents (and one nanny) using the LP with their children to understand more about the day to day processes. Twenty-one in-depth qualitative interviews with parents revealed a range of responses to treatment. Six parents were interviewed twice so that changes over time could provide further insights. When the LP was first introduced into the UK from Australia there was concern that drawing attention to the child’s speaking could either make the stuttering more severe or encourage the child to avoid talking. There was no evidence of this from any of the parents interviewed.
The majority of parents were able to understand the principles and procedures of the program and fit these with their understanding of stuttering, parenting and their children who stutter. These parents experienced the LP as satisfying and relatively simple to use and therapy proceeded straightforwardly.
Parents who were finding the LP more difficult were also sought and this smaller group divided further. There were three who started well and both the frequency and severity of stuttering reduced but then progress slowed down. These children had other speech, language and /or learning needs and it is possible that reduction rather than resolution of stuttering was the right treatment outcome. The parents needed to use the skills they had learnt for longer than the main straight-forward group.
The other two mothers found the LP difficult from the start and, with hindsight, some problems they had with parenting and their beliefs about stuttering and child behaviour could have been addressed first, this might have led to a better outcome.
The study suggests that the LP can be experienced as a straight-forward treatment by many but that if problems arise they need to be tackled by parent and SLT together. Parents should not feel guilty or that they have failed if treatment progresses slowly but time should be spent trying to sort out the problems so that maximum progress can be achieved.
stuttering and stammering mean the same