Childhood Fluency Disorders

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) play a central role in the screening, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of fluency disorders in children. The professional roles and activities in speech-language pathology include clinical/educational services (diagnosis, assessment, planning, and treatment), advocacy, education, administration, and research. See ASHA's Scope of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology (ASHA, 2016).

Appropriate roles for SLPs working with children with fluency disorders include:

  • providing prevention information to individuals and groups known to be at risk for fluency disorders and to individuals working with those at risk;
  • educating other professionals about the needs of children with fluency disorders and the role of SLPs in screening, assessing, diagnosing, and managing fluency disorders;
  • screening of communication when a fluency disorder is suspected and as part of a comprehensive speech-language evaluation;
  • understanding that awareness and concern about stuttering may vary across individuals and cultures and conducting a culturally and linguistically relevant comprehensive assessment of fluency and language;
  • diagnosing fluency disorders;
  • referring the patient/client to other professionals to rule out other conditions, determine etiology, and facilitate access to comprehensive services;
  • developing culturally and linguistically relevant treatment and intervention plans focused on helping the child achieve fluent speech, providing treatment, documenting progress, and determining appropriate dismissal criteria;
  • recommending related services when necessary for daily classroom management and treatment;
  • counseling individuals with fluency disorders and their families and providing education aimed at preventing further complications related to fluency disorders;
  • consulting and collaborating with families, individuals with fluency disorders, other professionals, support personnel, peers, and other invested parties to identify priorities and build consensus on an intervention plan focused on functional outcomes;
  • remaining informed of research in the area of fluency disorders and advancing the knowledge base of the nature of the disability, screening, diagnosis, prognostic indicators, assessment, treatment, and service delivery for individuals with fluency disorders;
  • advocating for individuals with fluency disorders and their families at the local, state, and national levels.

As indicated in the Code of Ethics (ASHA, 2010), SLPs who serve this population should be specifically educated and appropriately trained to do so. The American Board of Fluency and Fluency Disorders, under the auspices of ASHA's specialty certification program, offers clinical specialty certification in fluency and fluency disorders. Board Certified Specialists in Fluency are individuals who hold ASHA certification and have demonstrated advanced knowledge and clinical expertise in diagnosing and treating individuals with fluency disorders.

Content Disclaimer: The Practice Portal, ASHA policy documents, and guidelines contain information for use in all settings; however, members must consider all applicable local, state and federal requirements when applying the information in their specific work setting.