Reducing preschool stuttering with parent training

In this study, the primary caregiver of 2 ½ to 5 ½-year-old children who stutter was trained once weekly for three weeks. The primary objective of the training was to teach caregivers how to use “slow, relaxed speech” when conversing with their child. By the end of the three-week intervention, “…94% of the children increased their fluency,” even though the, “…mean articulatory rate for the children was not different across the visits…”
We could posit that training parents to speak in this manner caused the improvement in their children’s speech. However, the authors note that other factors could be at play. For example, simply increasing parents' confidence could have a positive effect their child’s fluency, not because of the caregiver's reduced speech rate, but because of other social–emotional factors that can result from parent empowerment. Why the children’s fluency improved remains to be tested.
Surprisingly, even though parent training of preschool children who stutter is very common, “…there is an astonishing lack of empirical evidence from outcome-based studies for some of the current recommendations made to parents regarding changes in communication styles.” Even though there were only 17 caregiver–child pairs in this study, it’s the, “…largest to date to examine the effect of a deliberately slower (adult) articulation rate on (childhood) stuttering.”
Sawyer, J., Matteson, C., Ou, H., & Nagase, T. (2017). The effects of parent-focused slow relaxed speech intervention on articulation rate, response time latency, and fluency in preschool children who stutter. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1044/2016_JSLHR-S-16-0002.