Understanding the Lidcombe Program

Written by Rochelle Vizelman

Certified Practicing Speech Pathologist
B.Sc, B.Sp.Path, C.P.S.P

You may have heard of different programs that are used to treat stuttering in preschool aged children.

Most of you have most definitely heard of the Lidcombe Program if you have seen a speech pathologist due to concerns that your pre-school aged child stutters.

In fact, we can guarantee that the speech pathologist mentioned the Lidcombe Program in your first visit.

But what is the Lidcombe program and why do we as speech pathologists readily recommend it as treatment option to preschool aged children who stutter?

Well, we LOVE evidence and evidence-based approached to therapy, and stuttering therapy is no different.

Treating Early Childhood Stuttering

An evidence-based approach is one that we should and do choose to treat or help manage stuttering in both children and adults.

The Lidcombe Program is an evidence-based behavioural and direct therapy approach to treating early childhood stuttering.

It is a parent-led and child-focused therapy program.

The speech therapy sessions are set up for parent coaching, in order to support your efforts at reducing stuttering and increasing positive feelings surrounding communication skills.

Therapy is individualized, fun and focused on the child’s interests both in the clinic and at home.

The aim is to get rid or almost get rid of your child’s stuttering and for the ‘fluency’ to transfer into the child’s life in all different daily activities, not just in the clinic.

Evidence shows that the Lidcombe program can significantly reduce stuttering in early childhood,

The main idea of the Lidcombe Program is that we can help reduce a child’s stuttering by using what are called ‘verbal contingencies’.

This means that you give your child lots of positive feedback when they are speaking smoothly without any stutters/bumps.

You are also taught and instructed on how to provide feedback for some of the bumps that occur in your child’s speech, though this feedback is given much less often than the positive feedback.

This is why the Lidcombe program is overall a very positive and praise-led therapy approach.


Other than the direct therapy component of the Lidcombe program, the program also relies on speech measures to track the progress of eliminating a child’s stutter.

These measures are called Severity Ratings (SRs) and are used to measure a child’s stuttering both in and outside of the clinic.

They help ensure that progress is being made or that adjustments can be made if there is no measured progress.

Every day, parents record an SR for the whole day to reflect their child’s typical fluency for the day.

The Lidcombe program is set over two stages

  • Stage 1 goal: no stuttering or almost no stuttering
  • Stage 2 goal: no stuttering or almost no stuttering to be sustained over a prolonged period of time.

The Lidcombe Program isn’t the only evidence-based therapy program for children that is effective, and it may not work for every child.

A speech pathologist who works with children who stutter will be able to discuss a variety of treatment options that may be appropriate for your child.

These recommendations may be based on the child’s stuttering history, their age, previous therapy, parental concerns, or even the type and severity of stuttering.

It is important that you seek advice from a qualified speech pathologist regarding what therapy approach would be best suited for your child.

Both direct or indirect therapy approaches may be recommended and used to treat and manage your child’s stuttering.


O’Brian, S., Iverach, L., Jones, M., Onslow, M., Packman, A., & Menzies, R. (2013). Effectiveness of the Lidcombe Program for early stuttering in Australian community clinics. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 15(6), 593-603.
Onslow, M., Webber, M., Harrison, E., Arnott, S., Bridgman, K., Carey, B., … & Hearne, A. (2017). The Lidcombe program treatment guide. Lidcombe program trainers consortium.
Shafiei, B., Faramarzi, S., Abedi, A., Dehqan, A., & Scherer, R. C. (2019). Effects of the Lidcombe program and parent-child interaction therapy on stuttering reduction in preschool children. Folia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica, 71(1), 29-41.
Trajkovski, N., O’Brian, S., Onslow, M., Packman, A., Lowe, R., Menzies, R., … & Reilly, S. (2019). A three-arm randomized controlled trial of Lidcombe Program and Westmead Program early stuttering interventions. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 61, 105708.

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