Shouldn’t the speech therapist be providing the treatment?
If you recently began receiving speech therapy for your preschool-aged child who stutters, chances are the speech therapist is spending a lot more time coaching you than they are working directly with your child. You may be wondering, if the speech therapist worked with my child more, wouldn’t it make his stuttering improve?
Well, yes and no. It is true, when children work directly with a speech-language pathologist, fluency typically increases quickly in speech therapy sessions. But that fluent speech does not usually carry over to the rest of the child’s day. Without a treatment plan that addresses fluent speech in all environments, across all times of day, your child is not likely to have long-lasting success.
In fact, all the most well-researched treatment programs for preschoolers who stutter have parent training as a hallmark characteristic. The Lidcombe Program, the Palin Parent-Child Interaction therapy program, and the RESTART program all use parent training as the primary method of treatment.
So why is parent training so important in preschool stuttering? And what are the benefits?
Treatment can be completed throughout the week, rather than just for 30-60 minutes per week when the child is with the speech therapist. When parents are trained to provide the therapy, children have better outcomes because they are practicing fluent speech throughout the day in their natural environments.
Parents develop skills for improving fluency that will be valuable if stuttering recurs. It is common for children who stutter to have relapses, even after establishing fluent speech for long periods of time. It is important for parents to be trained in how to improve fluency so that these relapses can be addressed confidently and efficiently.
The bond between parents and the child who stutters grows stronger. Treatment for preschool stuttering often involves an increase in one-on-one time between the child and one or both parents. The treatment is fun for both the child and the adult, and can strengthen the connection between them.
For more information on stuttering in preschool-aged children, visit the Stuttering Foundation’s website here.
If your preschool child has started stuttering and you are interested in speech therapy, contact a licensed speech-language pathologist in your area who specializes in stuttering and fluency.
If you are in the Los Angeles area and would like to request a free phone consultation to discuss your child's stuttering, click here.