Category Archives: Bi-lingual Child

When treating a child who is bilingual, and who stutters in both languages, do you find that treatment in only one of the languages causes spontaneous generalisation to the other one? Or does treatment have to be delivered in both languages?

I can think of children who fit both of the possibilities that you suggest. That is, sometimes treatment effects generalise from the first to the second language, and sometimes not. When working with bilingual children, I start treatment in the language that the child and parent speak at home, and ask the parent to collect daily severity ratings for both languages. These severity ratings become the basis of our discussions and decisions about whether or not to treat in the second language.

I have a child in my clinic of nearly four who is bilingual English and Arabic. Her Arabic is superior to her English. She is stuttering in Arabic but her English, which is ‘delayed’ for her age, is stutter -free. Should we wait for her English to catch up with her Arabic so that she is stuttering in both languages, or should I try and treat her in Arabic via her mother? Do you have any experience of this yourself, and what did you do?

To begin with, treatment in the Lidcombe Program is delivered by parents, not speech-language pathologists. It seems a minor point, but if you’re clear about that, then the rest follows easily. The mother treats this girl every day, so they can use the language they prefer – which seems to be Arabic. Your role is to train the mother to take speech measures, and correctly and safely present verbal contingencies following the girl’s stutter-free and stuttered speech. I have lots of experience using the Lidcombe Program with families who speak languages other than English, so I am confident that this approach will be successful.