Authors: Euler HA, Merkel A, Hente K, Neef N, Wolff von Gudenberg A, Neumann K
Title: Speech restructuring group treatment for 6-to-9-year-old children who stutter: A therapeutic trial
Source: Journal of Communication Disorders 2021 89: Article ID: 106073
Year: 2021
Research Design: Non Randomised Controlled Trial
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For children who stutter (CWS), there is good evidence of the benefits of treatment for pre-school age, but an evidence gap for elementary school age. Here we report on the effectiveness of a fluency shaping treatment for 6- to 9-year-old children. The main treatment component is the reinforcement of soft voice onsets. An intensive in-patient group treatment phase lasts 6 days, followed by a 6-month maintenance phase with 3 in-patient weekend group refresher courses. Child and a parent participate together in various treatment activities. In this controlled intervention study (waitlist control, intention-to-treat design) assessments were performed before treatment (T1), 4 weeks after the intensive phase (T2), at the end of the maintenance phase (T3), and 1 year later (T4). Participants were 119 children (108 boys, 11 girls, age 5.5-10.4 years). Control conditions included a subgroup with delayed treatment (N = 25) as well as the assessment of complexity of utterances, inter-rater reliability, and speech naturalness. From before treatment to 1-year follow-up, percent stuttered syllables and OASES-S (Overall Assessment of the Speaker's Experience with Stuttering-School-age) scores decreased with large effect size. Speech naturalness improved during this period but did not reach the level of non-stuttering children. Complexity of utterances increased during the intensive phase, but only temporarily. Twenty children (16.8 %, including dropouts) showed no demonstrable treatment benefit. Fluency shaping treatment can be effectively applied to young school children. It is assumed that parental support, group therapy, intensive treatment, and regular exercises at home are essential.

Access: Open Access