Identifying components of interventions for preschool children with primary speech and language difficulties

TitleIdentifying components of interventions for preschool children with primary speech and language difficulties
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference2013
AuthorsRoulstone, S, Morgan, L, Parker, N, Marshall, J
Conference Name29th World Congress of the IALP
Date Published08/2013

Systematic reviews indicate that there is some evidence to support interventions for preschool children with primary speech and language impairments (PSLI).  However, some interventions work best with particular populations. There is also a degree of overlap between the components of interventions.  Yet the evidence does not distinguish which particular components of interventions are the active ingredients that bring about change.  Before it is possible to design studies that evaluate the contribution of the various components, we must first identify the components.  The aim of this study is to investigate speech and language therapists’ (SLTs) perspectives on the interventions they offer for preschool children with PSLI, in order to identify key components.
Nine focus groups were held in six speech and language therapy services in England, purposively selected to provide a range of demographic characteristics (socioeconomic status, ethnicity, urban/rural, transient population, English as an additional language).  Participants were SLTs (n = 40) who had experience of working with preschool children with PSLI.  They were asked to describe their interventions.  Discussions were recorded, and then transcribed in full. Data were analysed using NVivo9 to support data management. Analysis used first a content analysis to identify intervention and then a thematic analysis, to explore the purposes of therapists’ interventions.
The thematic analysis identified ten predominant purposes to therapists’ interventions, for example laying foundation skills, improving parent child interaction and fostering parent understanding.  In addition, therapists talked about the constraints of current care pathways, delivery mechanisms and crucial aspects of therapy.  Each of the main purposes identified was cross-tabulated with the content analysis, to investigate the associated set of activities, strategies and resources, delivery issues, and variations.
The findings will be presented in terms of a possible typology of interventions for preschool children with PSLI.  Applications of the typology to the description and development of intervention packages will be discussed, along with the implications of the typology for future research.