About 4% to 8% of children stutter at some point during early childhood (Yairi & Ambrose, 2013). Stuttering usually starts without warning between the ages of 2 1/2 and 4 years of age. The good news is that at least 80% of young children who stutter will recover spontaneously (Reilly et al., 2013). The bad news is that, so far, we have no reliable way of knowing if a given child will be in the lucky majority; and those who don’t recover, face significant, negative life impacts – from early childhood to old age (e.g. Bricker Katz, Lincoln & McCabe, 1999).
To help speech pathologists and families of children who stutter, we created this stuttering-expressive language resource pack for three reasons:
1. Recent research suggests that children with well-developing expressive syntax skills may be more likely to recover from stuttering than children with poor language development. Researchers found that monitoring the rate of growth in a child’s expressive syntax skills over time using conversational speech samples may be more predictive of natural recovery than measuring absolute gains between initial assessment and subsequent assessments – especially as every child who stutters has different language skills at initial assessment. This suggests that, in therapy, speech pathologists and parents should choose activities that support both stutter-free speech and more challenging sentence structures and word forms. You can read more about this research (and its limitations) here.
2. In stuttering therapy, some children respond well to structured language stimulation tasks targeted either below or at their expressive language development level. Some families also enjoy the “no preparation" ease of using pre- prepared stimulus materials in conjunction with games and activities, e.g. suggested in our free Lidcombe Program Activities Resource and Volume 2 of our Lidcombe Program Activities.
3. Research around principles of motor learning tell us that lots of distributed speech practice using a variety of targets in a variety of settings with a variety of people might result in better long-term outcomes than progressing in small steps, with one person, in one setting. These resources provide plenty of variety while “scripting" out language tasks that can be used or adapted by any adult in any setting. Again, these resources can be used either as stand-alone drill-play tasks, or in conjunction with activities and games such as those outlined in our Lidcombe Program activities packs.
In short, this resource pack is designed to as an easy-to-use resource for speech pathologists looking for extra help to support language development while the child undertakes evidence-based child stuttering treatments such as the Lidcombe or Westmead Programs. Featuring pictures and words, these resources are suitable to be used with children across a wide range of ages, and children with different developmental needs.
This stuttering-expressive language pack is designed to be used in any number of ways.
For some children, working with word or sentence levels well within the child's capabilities may help increase the child's fluency during structured practice.
For other children, “ratcheting" up and down the sentence levels and/or combining language tasks with games and other motor activities may help the child to practice fluency at different levels, without rehearsal or being in control of the language level, reflecting real world demands.
As always, our resources are designed to be used under the close supervision of the child's qualified speech language pathologist, who is in the best position to work with the family to choose targets that are appropriate for the child at the relevant time of treatment.
For more words and sentences, check out our No-Prep Stuttering Expressive Language Volume 2 Pack.
Principal source: Leech, K.A., Bernstein Ratner, N., Brown, B., & Weber, C.M. (2017). Preliminary Evidence that Growth in Productive Language Differentiates Childhood Stuttering Persistence and Recovery. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 60, 3097-3109.