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A Systematic Review of Family-Led Interventions for Children with Complex Communication Needs.

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Aim: Success in AAC interventions has been shown to depend on the support and commitment of the family over a span of time. The aim is to determine which intervention programmes provide favourable communication support for families, and how the outcomes of intervention are related to underlying theories.
Method: A systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature of family-led interventions was conducted. The methodology consisted of selecting the identified studies according to predetermined inclusion criteria and analyzing the results following the NJC Evidence-based Data Entry Instrument. Nine group studies and 20 single-case experimental designs were included in the coding and analysis stage.
Results: A range of interventions including parent and sibling training programmes and approaches, the use of story books and speech generated devices and micro-level interactions were reported. These focused on the development of pre verbal skills such as symbolic play, imitation, turn taking and joint engagement. Other studies reported specific language outcomes such as the development of pragmatic functions (e.g. requests, comments, protests, choices). Parent and sibling interaction skills reported included aided AAC modelling, use of pause time, open-ended questions and expectant delay. Only two studies explicitly identified a theoretical framework or approach to explain how changes have occurred in the intervention. The review indicated limitations related to the reporting of interventions, participant data and elements of internal and external validity.
Conclusion: All the studies reported immediate positive outcomes of family training and interventions. Gaps in the research and implications for further research were discussed.


Marica Gatt    
Tizard Centre, University of Kent, UK

Jill Bradshaw    
Tizard Centre, University of Kent
United Kingdom

Nicola Grove    
Tizard Centre, University of Kent, UK
United Kingdom

Glynis Murphy    
Tizard Centre, University of Kent
United Kingdom


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