DLD research at SBT – and summer student placements

Speech Therapist Helps The Girl How To Pronounce The Sounds

SBT is passionate about providing the best support possible to children with developmental language disorder (DLD). We also want to ensure that children receive evidence-based therapy, which is why we are also committed to supporting research.

Two SBT SLTs, Michelle and Rochelle, are both conducting studies for their Master’s Degrees at the moment, with the support of SBT, and we have just started a collaboration with Abbie Moran, an SLT and PhD student at City University.

Abbie’s PhD study is investigating the impact of DLD on working memory development in six to 10 year olds. She is hoping to recruit 80 children with DLD and to compare them to 80 typically developing children. So far, she has tested around 30 children with DLD, but is hoping to recruit more – something with which SBT is helping her.

Abbie had a student placement with SBT seven years ago and it’s great to be working with her again.

But this summer we’ll be welcoming some ‘new Abbies’, as we’ll be taking a group of UCL undergraduates on placement. They’ll get to practise assessment, observation, Year 6 transition and discharge, review and discharge, creating therapy target outcomes, and working with resources.

We’re looking forward to hosting them – and maybe helping them with their own PhDs in seven years’ time!

Sarah Buckley Therapies champions research

Bulletin research article

SBT practice manager Sarah Buckley attended the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT)’s Research Champion Workshop in July, to explain how SBT supports its therapists in research and personal development. It was the first such workshop since 2016.

The September issue of RCSLT’s Bulletin has just covered the event, with RCSLT Research Support Officer Katie Chadd writing:

“Other speakers included independent therapist Sarah Buckley, who has done tremendous work in boosting her company’s research culture.”

During her talk, Sarah explained how staff have been able to work on research, move to part-time work and to take sabbaticals for their MSc conversions. Shelley Parkin and Caitlyn Chandler both earned their MScs while working for SBT, developing the use of Lego-based therapy with children with language impairment.

Sophie Hay has also recently submitted her MSc project, ‘Receptive vocabulary and early socio-cognitive skills in pre-school children’. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for her!

LEGO® Therapy by Danielle O’Sullivan

LEGO® is an incredibly popular toy with children all over the world. It is also a fantastic learning tool particularly for children with autism who are often motivated by this fun, systematic construction toy. LEGO® therapy is a therapeutic approach for children with autism and related social communication difficulties which utilises their interest in this toy to help them develop social skills.

How does LEGO® therapy work?

A group of 3 children work together to build a LEGO® project.

Each child takes on a different role:

  • Engineer – oversees the design and makes sure it is followed
  • Supplier – finds the bricks requested by the engineer  and gives them to the builder
  • Builder – positions the bricks as instructed by the engineer.

LEGO® therapy groups also have an adult facilitator whose role is to keep the children focused and on-task, help resolve conflicts, encourage positive interactions and prompt the children when needed

Continue reading “LEGO® Therapy by Danielle O’Sullivan”

LEGO® Therapy Research Project – Update

You may recall that we were undertaking an MSc research project investigating LEGO® -Based Therapy for supporting language skills. The project is now complete and we would like to share our results!

LEGO® -Based Therapy is an intervention that was originally designed to be used with children with autism to develop social competence skills. Our research project investigated adapting this intervention to be used with children with mild-moderate language impairment.  In our clinical experience, a LEGO® -Based Therapy approach can be used with language impaired children to target a range of functional communication skills including, but not limited to: resolving conflicts, problem solving, negotiation, organising and sequencing ideas, turn taking, communication initiation, formulation of questions, listening and communication repair skills. As an initial investigation our study selected only one particular aspect of functional communication to examine: repairing conversational breakdown through initiating clarification.

Continue reading “LEGO® Therapy Research Project – Update”

Research News

Lego Therapy MSc Project – Blog update

We are undertaking a Masters level research project at City University London. This project is a novel piece of research which looks at whether LEGO® Therapy can support children with language difficulties in repairing communication when it has broken down. Children with speech and language difficulties frequently experience communication breakdowns both in the classroom and in social settings. This may be that the child has not understood something or that the person they are speaking to has not understood him/her. Children who have a range of strategies to repair communication breakdowns are less likely to experience frustration and more likely to successfully clarify something they have not understood in the classroom.

LEGO® Therapy has historically been used with children on the Autistic Spectrum to develop social interaction skills. However, the nature of this therapy lends itself particularly well to developing a range of other language and communication skills, including developing communication repair strategies.

Check back later to find out the results of our research!

Caitlyn Chandler and Shelley Parkin

Research News

Accurately repeating a sentence can be hard for children with language difficulties… Is this task more complex than we first thought?

Many researchers have noted that children with language impairment have great difficulty accurately repeating a spoken sentence that they have heard. Why is this? What exactly is the child required to do during this task? These are the questions that I am looking to investigate in my Master’s research project. This type of repetition task is called sentence repetition or sentence recall. It turns out that this task doesn’t just rely on a child’s ability to remember the sentence, but it also draws on his/her memory for language that they have already learnt. A child cannot repeat a sentence accurately if they haven’t learnt and stored the language previously! This is a useful tool for identifying children with language difficulties, however, there are still unanswered questions about what exactly this task is testing. A greater understanding of this task could help with early identification of language difficulties and is a simple, cost-effective way of screening children for any difficulties. I will have to see what the results suggest… watch this space!

Becky Harrison

Speech and Language Therapist

Research News

The team at SBT are committed to keeping up to date with current research related to all aspects of Speech and Language Therapy. Research keeps us up to date with new therapy approaches and helps us to do a better job in supporting children with speech, language and communication needs.

Some members of our team are currently participating in their own Masters research projects in association with City University, London. Watch this space to find out more. As always, we welcome any questions or comments!