News

Lidcombe Program the 'gold standard' for treatment of early stuttering


16 August 2005

Lidcombe Program Brochure
Lidcombe Program Brochure

A program of early intervention developed by researchers at the University of Sydney has been shown to dramatically improve the recovery of sufferers of chronic stuttering, a speech disorder which has devastating social, emotional, and educational effects for both adults and children.

The Lidcombe Program of Early Stuttering Intervention, which was developed by researchers at Sydney University’s Faculty of Health Sciences, and clinicians at the Stuttering Unit, Bankstown Health Service, is a behaviour therapy for preschool children who stutter. The Program incorporates weekly clinic visits to the speech clinic by the child and parent.

Publication of the randomised controlled trial of the Lidcombe Program in the most recent issue of the prestigious British Medical Journal provides the first “gold standard” evidence for any treatment for early stuttering.

‘The trial was extremely successful, with treatment effects being twice the “minimal worthwhile difference”, and leaving no doubt about the efficacy of the treatment,’ said Professor Mark Onslow, Director of the Australian Stuttering Research Centre, who led the research team.

Stuttering affects one to two per cent of all adults in all cultures and usually starts in children around the ages of three or four after a period of apparently normal speech development. Statistics show that around five per cent of children begin to stutter, and although the population natural recovery rate is high (around 74 per cent), the natural recovery rate of cases presenting to clinics had not been researched.

‘Several treatments for early stuttering are currently available, but only one, the Lidcombe Program, has been studied with phase I and II clinical trials,’ said Professor Onslow. ‘After nine months, the reduction of stuttering in the Lidcombe Program group was significantly and clinically greater than natural recovery. All the children in the treatment group met the criteria for recovery, but a surprising finding was that only three of the children in the control group - who received no stuttering treatment - recovered.

‘This groundbreaking clinical trial established for the first time that the best thing to do for children who stutter is for them to receive the Lidcombe Program during in the preschool years. If stuttering preschoolers do not receive this treatment, then they are exposed to the risk that they will suffer the debilitating effects of this serious speech disorder for a lifetime,’ said Professor Onslow.

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Notes to Editors:
• Further information regarding the work of The Australian Stuttering Research Centre is available online at: http://www.fhs.usyd.edu.au/asrc

• The British Medical Journal online is available at: http://bmj.bmjjournals.com/

• Further information regarding the Lidcombe Program is available online at:
http://www3.fhs.usyd.edu.au/asrcwww/treatment/lidcombe.htm