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Does pediatric stuttering treatment actually work?

I know the ‘party-line’ for speech language pathologists all over the globe is that stuttering is a treatable pathology, provided that it’s caught early enough.  But then again, if this is the case, then why hasn’t the prevalence of stuttering changed (i.e., improved) over time?  Time and time again, I think the entire SLP community enacts Cargo Cult Science, where they follow the process and pat themselves on the back every now and then when things turn out OK.  So here’s yet-another article that says that stuttering can be successfully treated if it’s caught early enough–even though the reality of the situation is that we really don’t know.  Cargo Cult Science, people…

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  1. March 6th, 2009 at 08:01 | #1

    The SLT service in Norwich which has been running an early intervention programme for nigh on ten years now tell us, anecdotally, that the only school-age children they get referrals for these days are from those who have moved into the County.
    When we started our own early intervention projects I saw an article about a rigorous early assessment and intervention programme in the NW of the US (I believe one school district in Washington State) where, from memory, the incidence of stammering dropped from one in 100 to 1 in 1,000 after about 14 years of work. I have been trying to find this study again for many years, so if anyone knows, I’d be grateful.

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  2. Greg @ Stuttering.me
    March 6th, 2009 at 08:40 | #2

    Thanks for your input, Norbert. I’ll do my best to continue to have an open mind.

    My only reply/thought to your comment is the Yairi data that suggests that changes of spontaneous recovery from stuttering drops significantly after 18 months (or so) post-onset. If onset (or emergence) is from ages 2 to 4, than that leaves us to “fix” these kids in their kindergarten year. After that, their chances are dropping like a lead weight.

    And there was a study from the Kalinowski group suggesting that normal school based SLPs see very little (if any) spontaneous recovery in their elementary-aged stutterers. Now–these are just average run-of-the-mill therapists, which may be relatively incompetent when it comes to ped. stuttering treatment.

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  3. ig88sir
    March 7th, 2009 at 16:35 | #3

    to Norbert:

    Do you think speech therapy can eliminate stuttering when the onset is in adolescence? I started stuttering at the age of 12 BTW.

    Thanks.

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  4. Greg @ Stuttering.me
    March 7th, 2009 at 18:44 | #4

    Uhm–not been any data on that (which I can recall, anyway). The conventional thinking (based in Yairi et al) is that the later the onset, the more resistant against spontaneous recovery. So my thought would be, “no”… but I’ve had no experience or read any studies on it.

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