In the Press
International Stammering Awareness Day 2014
October 22nd 2014 is International Stammering Awareness Day.
Find out more by clicking on the link.> BSA ISAD 2014
Good news? Bad news? There is such a thing as bad publicity
GOOD NEWS? BAD NEWS?
There is such a thing as bad publicity
An ongoing study by Reilly et al, has recently published some interesting findings about stammering in children in Melbourne, Australia:
- by the age of four years, more than one in ten children start to stammer
- at age four, the children who stammered had better language skills and higher non-verbal intelligence scores than the children who did not stammer
- higher rates of stammering were found in boys, twins and children whose mothers were college educated
- at age four, there was no difference in quality of life or temperament between the children who stammered and those who did not
- only 9 out of 142 children who started to stammer before four years of age had stopped one year later.
This article in the journal ‘Pediatrics’ has generated interest in the media, which is good news. But the bad news is - there are some unfortunate headlines and quotes emerging:
Preschoolers’ Stuttering Not Harmful (USA Today)
Children who stutter do not suffer disadvantage at school (Daily Mail)
The media has selected ‘newsworthy’ phrases and developed headlines which do not convey some of the important findings of the study, namely that many more children experience stammering and fewer of those stop within a year than was previously thought. The headlines above have caused dismay in the international community of professionals who seek to help children who stammer. Leading experts in the field have been misquoted, but the greatest victims of all of this may be the many children who start to stammer.
Parents may be discouraged from seeking advice, doctors will assure them that the child will be fine and the opportunity for early intervention will be lost. We have spent the last 30 years convincing professionals that there is strong evidence that stammering therapy in the preschool years results in significant improvement.
In the article, Reilly et al cite the Lidcombe Program which recommends delaying treatment for 12 months unless the child is distressed, there is parental concern, or the child becomes reluctant to communicate and they suggest that this could be deferred for even longer. However, only 9 out of 142 children studied had resolved the problem within one year of stammering onset. The authors say that therapy is intensive and expensive, citing the Lidcombe Program requiring a median of 15.4 clinical sessions followed by 10 clinical maintenance sessions. The Michael Palin Centre’s Palin PCI programme is a widely used evidence- based therapy approach for preschoolers, which typically delivers therapy in fewer sessions. A telephone conversation, access to professional information on-line (see http://www.stammeringcentre.org/parent-information or others below), or a consultation with a speech and language therapist can also be time efficient and cost effective.
We have known for many years that many children who stammer have advanced language skills and that these may be putting their vulnerable system under some pressure as their brains race ahead of their mouths.
The authors of the study acknowledged that their sample included a higher number of children of highly educated mothers. Their finding that stammering was more likely in children of such mothers should not be misinterpreted. In a recent radio interview of one the study’s authors, the journalist was clearly under the impression that this meant that these mothers were causing their children to stammer. Parents do not cause stammering, that is a fact that is undisputed.
It is reassuring for parents to know that this research found that at the age of four children who stammer are similar in temperament to their fluent peers. This reinforces what we already knew, that stammering is not caused by being a particular personality type. But research has also demonstrated that even preschool children experience negative reactions from other children, and all too often we hear reports of school years blighted by teasing and bullying. So although a four-year old may not be shy or anxious, his early life experiences may begin to change that. All the more reason to intervene early.
We must also remember that these results reflect what is typical for this group studied. Within any group there is individual variation and there will be a small number of children who differ from the overall picture and for whom the stammer is a problem. We strongly believe that if a parent is worried enough about the child to seek help and/or if the child is responding negatively to the stammering, that the family should receive the advice and support that they require.
The quest of these researchers is to understand more about stammering, which will ultimately enable us all to help more children. The unintended impact of this may be that there is such a thing as bad publicity.
Reilly, S., Onslow, M., Packman, A., Cini, E., Conway, L., Bavin, E., Prior, M., Eadie, P., Block, S. and Wake, M. (2013) Natural History of Stuttering to 4 Years of Age: A Prospective Community Study. Pediatrics
Onslow, M., Packman, A. and Harrison, E. (2003) The Lidcombe Programme of Early Stuttering Intervention. A Clinician’s Guide. Pro-ed.
Jones, M., Onslow, M., Packman, A., Williams, S., Ormond, T., Schwarz, I. and Gebski, V. (2005) Randomised Controlled Trial of the Lidcombe Programme of Early Stuttering Intervention. British Medical Journal, 11.8.2005.
Kelman, E. & Nicholas, A. (2008). Practical Intervention for Early Childhood Stammering: Palin PCI Approach. Speechmark Publishing Ltd: Milton Keynes, UK.
Millard, S.K., Nicholas, A. & Cook, F.M. (2008). ‘Is Parent-Child Interaction Therapy Effective in Reducing Stuttering?’ Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 51(3), pp 636-650.
Millard, S.K., Edwards, S. & Cook, F. (2009) Parent-child interaction therapy: Adding to the evidence. International Journal of Speech & language Pathology, Vol 11. Issue 1. pp 61-76.
The British Stammering Association www.stammering.org
Stuttering Foundation www.stutteringhelp.org
Book for parents:
Kelman, E. & Whyte, A. (2012) Understanding Stammering or Stuttering. Jessica Kingsley Publishers: London.
Ed Balls runs the London Marathon for ASC
We are delighted that Ed Balls is running the London Marathon for a second year to raise money for Action for Stammering Children - THANK YOU Ed!
Colin Firth becomes Vice President of Action for Stammering Children
Action for Stammering Children (ASC) is delighted that Colin Firth has become a Vice President of the charity. We look forward to sharing more about this exciting development over the coming months. Please click on the following link for more details:> Evening Standard article
Ed Balls visits MPC before the marathon
Read about Ed Balls' visit to the Centre days before the London Marathon to meet the children and parents on the intensive course. Colin Firth joined him.> Ed Balls visits MPC
Ed Balls completes the London marathon
Read about Ed Balls and his London Marathon experience.> Ed Balls completes the London Marathon
Ed Balls training for the London Marathon
The Guardian writes about Ed Balls and his training for this years London Marathon> Ed Balls training for the London Marathon
Ed Balls Launches Fundraising
Ed Balls is running this years London Marathon to help raise money for Action for Stammering Children.> Ed Balls Marathon article in the Mirror
The Kid's Speech
The Michael Palin Centre offers support for children who stammer and their families.> The Guardian article on the Kid's Speech
Exciting Documentary 'The Kid's Speech'
The cameras follow three children as they undergo intensive speech therapy at the Michael Palin Centre> Telegraph The Kid's Speech