This paper presents the results of two written surveys designed to identify interventions that speech and language therapists (SLTs) in England commonly use with preschool children with primary speech and language impairment (PSLI) and to examine what might lead SLTs to modify their interventions.
Children with speech and language impairments are commonly classified into two broad groups: primary and secondary. PSLI exists in apparent isolation from any other identifiable condition. PSLI is one of the most prevalent of childhood developmental disorders, these children therefore constitute a significant and important group. SLT-led interventions for these children have been characterised in a number of ways, but none provide an overarching analysis of the principles, characteristics, components and associated outcomes that would allow a systematic evaluation of the active ingredients. This lack of analysis means that it is difficult to stratify interventions according to their suitability for differing subgroups of children and families. Systematic reviews of interventions for children with PSLI show evidence of positive results. Interventions used in common practice are, however, not always those supported by research evidence and research evidence is not always used by SLTs.
Two on-line surveys were sent to SLTs in England, through a variety of contacts. In the first survey SLTs were asked questions about activities and strategies they use with preschool children with PSLI as well as how / why they might modify these interventions.
In the second survey, SLTs were asked to respond to questions in relation to a specific child with PSLI aged 2;00-5;11 years old, with whom they had worked. Respondents were asked about the child’s speech, language, and other abilities as well as about family/contextual factors. Respondents described the types of intervention activities and strategies they used.
One hundred and ninety-one SLTs responded to the first survey. They reported a range of activities including, most popularly, auditory discrimination activities, using information carrying words and vocabulary activities. The strategies they used varied, but were less likely to be disorder group specific. The most commonly reported factors that led SLTs to adapt their interventions included the severity of the child’s disorder, the child’s level of self-awareness and interest and parental understanding.
Two hundred and seventeen SLTs responded to the second survey. The presentation will describe the patterns of intervention activities and strategies used by SLTs for children with different types of PSLI. It will also describe the child, family and contextual factors that SLTs consider to be important when planning intervention.
The discussion will consider:
The implications for SLTs’ continuing professional education in terms of any mismatches between current intervention and research evidence.
Implications for future research of interventions that are commonly used but have not been rigorously tested by research.
How the findings will contribute to a possible typology of interventions for preschool children with PSLI.