speak or translate this page

Speech and Language: developing an intervention together

The long term aim of this research is to develop and trial the feasibility of a complex intervention for pre-school children with comorbid speech and language difficulties. This is because pre-school children with this comorbid presentation are at significant risk of persisting needs relating to communication, emotional wellbeing and education as they grow older. This first stage of this project is being funded as a part of a HEE ICA National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship (PCAF).

Why is this important?

Speech and language skills are fundamental to everyday living. An estimated 10% of young people present with Speech, Language and Communication Needs1 (SLCN). Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) is essential in helping these children achieve their potential and reduce the impact of their communication difficulties in day to day life. Many children first access SLT in their pre-school years; considerable improvement in skills, and even remediation of SLCN, can be observed in response to therapy during this time.

Speech (i.e. the production of individual sounds) and language (i.e. learning and using words) difficulties may occur together or in isolation. This research aims to develop an intervention for a sub set of pre-school children who have a comorbid presentation of speech and language difficulties. We know from previous research that this group are particularly vulnerable to later difficulties relating to literacy, persistent speech disorder and emotional wellbeing.

1Law et al (2000) Provision for children’s speech and language needs in England and Wales: facilitating communication between education and health services DfES research report 239

About the research team

This project is being run with support from staff at the Department of Language and Cognition at University College London (UCL). It is also being run in collaboration with the Bristol Speech and Language Therapy Unit (BSLTRU), the only NHS based research unit for applied Speech and Language Therapy practice within the country. Coproduction and clinical applicability are integral to this project, with both parents and clinicians being actively involved in the development of this intervention.

Project website: https://www.co-occurringspeechandlanguage.com/

For more information on the work of BSLTRU, please see: BSLTRU

The lead for this project is Lucy Rodgers, Early Years’ Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, based at Brighton General Hospital.

Disclaimer: Lucy Rodgers, Pre-doctoral Research Fellow, NIHR301006, is funded by Health Education England (HEE) / National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) for this research project. The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR, NHS or the UK Department of Health and Social Care.

More about childhood speech, language & communication needs

Worried about a child that you know?

Information for parents and professionals: https://ican.org.uk/i-cans-talking-point/

Want to know more about Developmental Language Disorder (DLD)?

DLD is a common condition impacting on an estimated 2 children in a class of 30. It is characterised by difficulties relating to understanding and use of language, where there is no associated condition such as Autism. More about DLD: https://radld.org