New research carried out at the University of Sydney has given speech pathologists a better insight into treating bilingual children who suffer from a stutter.
Dr Isabelle Rousseau, clinical trials coordinator at the University's Australian Stuttering Research Centre (ASRC), used her bilingualism in English and French to study and treat Victor, a 7-year-old bilingual boy suffering from a severe stutter.
Victor was treated in his first language, French, and a study was set up to see whether treatment effects would carry over into the second language as effectively. It is the first time the two languages of a bilingual stutterer have been monitored simultaneously and consistently throughout treatment.
The findings were presented at the 26th World Congress of the International Association of Logopedics and Phoniatrics in Brisbane by a team of researchers from the ASRC.
"This study is particularly significant in that we monitored both languages very regularly, testing as we went. We were therefore able to conclude that both the languages improved concurrently, although no treatment was conducted in English," said Dr Rousseau.
Previous studies with bilingual children have been difficult because of the practical problem of finding a speech pathologist proficient in both languages. Normally a translator would be required, making the results harder to determine. The design the Sydney researchers used has never been applied before anywhere in the world.
The team from the ASRC, Dr Rousseau, Dr Ann Packman and Professor Mark Onslow, used the Lidcombe Program to treat Victor. The program was developed in the early 1990s by researchers at the University of Sydney and clinicians at the Stuttering Unit, Bankstown Health Service. The treatment is evidence-based and is now accepted as best practice in Australia as well as gaining recognition internationally.