Remote coaching during parent–child reading

Inferential language isn’t easy! And yet it’s important for both academic and social success.

 “…the ability to use inferential language is an important aspect of spoken language competence, and the foundation for literacy, for children and adolescents with neurodevelopmental disorders…”

In this study, researchers taught mothers to deliver narrative intervention to their school-age (10- to 17-year-old) sons with fragile X syndrome (FXS). The intervention was done remotely; SLPs watched the shared book reading sessions via Skype and coached parents in real time using Bluetooth headsets. Earlier studies of this intervention (here and here) had already found increases in mothers’ use of treatment strategies (open-ended questions, modeling, prompting, recasts) and children’s use of varied vocabulary following treatment.

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This study re-analyzed previous data to look at inferential language (i.e., talk that goes beyond story illustrations to predict, make connections, etc). Following the narrative treatment, children showed increases in the amount and types of inferential language compared to those in a control condition; this extended to post-treatment sessions with new books as well. Although the intervention didn’t specifically target inferential language, children’s use of it still increased.

This intervention is exciting because (1) it’s the only evidence-based language treatment out there specifically tested with school-age children with FXS and (2) it’s delivered remotely, which could be a great option for families who have difficulty accessing services. There’s a lot to like about this model: not only can you eliminate travel time (your admins would love that), but it keeps the activity natural, with no clinic setting or extra people standing around. You don’t even need a lot of fancy equipment, assuming the family has a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Nelson, S., McDuffie, A., Banasik, A., Feigles, R. T., Thurman, A. J., & Abbeduto, L. (2018). Inferential language use by school-aged boys with fragile X syndrome: Effects of a parent-implemented spoken language intervention. Journal of Communication Disorders, 72, 64-76. doi:10.1016/j.jcomdis.2018.02.007.