Lavelli, M., Barachetti, C., Majorano, M., Florit, E., Brotto, C., & Miottello, P. (2019). Impacts of a shared book reading intervention for Italian-speaking children with Developmental Language Disorder. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, published online February 7, 2019. doi: 10.1111/1460-6984.12460
Background. The regular practice of shared book reading (SBR) at home may play a key role in fostering the linguistic development of children with developmental language disorder (DLD). However, more evidence is needed of the benefits of home-based SBR interventions on the parents’ conversational strategies and on the communicative and linguistic production of children with DLD.
Aims. To examine the impacts of a parent-based SBR intervention on the parent’s use of conversational strategies, and on the engagement, conversational participation and linguistic production of Italian-speaking children with DLD. The mothers trained in the use of SBR strategies were expected to increase their use of these strategies. The children were expected to show gains in their level of engagement and conversational participation during SBR; in turn, moderate increments of the indices of language production were expected.
Methods & Procedures. Thirty-two preschool children with DLD participated in the study; all were receiving speech language therapy. Using a non-randomized pre-post-test control trial, 20 mother–child dyads implemented an 8-week SBR programme (the SBR intervention group), while 12 dyads acted as a comparison group. Based on the ‘dialogic reading’ method, eight verbal and non-verbal SBR strategies were employed during individual and smallgroup parent training sessions. Speech–language therapists were involved in the individual parent training sessions to provide suggestions focused on the specific characteristics of each mother–child dyad. Measures of parents’ intervention strategies, children’s engagement, conversational participation and oral language were included.
Outcomes & Results. At post-test, mothers in the SBR intervention group used three of the eight SBR strategies—Shared Book Handling, Captivating Talking, and Utterances with a familiar topic—significantly more than the comparison group. Children whose mothers implemented the intervention showed significant gains in terms of time spent in engagement and amount of verbal production during shared reading. No effects were found for the children’s communicative initiatives and answers, or for indices of language complexity and diversity.
Conclusions&Implications.The present parent-based SBR intervention for Italian-speaking preschoolers with DLD showed effects, albeit modest, on both maternal and child communicative behaviours. The results suggest that extralinguistic strategies may be implemented successfully by parents and may be effective in enhancing children’s engagement and language production in the short term. Further investigations are needed that provide a longer intervention period and examine the joint impact of therapist- and parent-based intervention for children with DLD.