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Evaluation of a manualised speech and language therapy programme for children with social communication disorder: the SCIP feasibility study

  • Adams, Catherine1
  • Gaile, Jacqueline1
  • Roddam, Hazel2
  • Baxendale, Janet1
  • Clitheroe, Laura1
  • Emsley, Richard3
  • 1 University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK , Manchester (United Kingdom)
  • 2 University of Central Lancashire, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 2HE, UK , Preston (United Kingdom)
  • 3 Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College, London, UK , London (United Kingdom)
Published Article
Pilot and Feasibility Studies
BioMed Central
Publication Date
Sep 22, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s40814-020-00658-2
Springer Nature


BackgroundChildren with Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder (SPCD) have long-term needs in using and processing social language and have a high risk of later mental health difficulties. A manualised speech and language therapy programme, the Social Communication Intervention Programme (SCIP) provides therapy content for SPCD. A feasibility study is required to derive more precise estimates of key parameters for a future trial of SCIP.AimsTo assess the feasibility of conducting a substantive randomized controlled trial of SCIP for children with SPCD.MethodsA questionnaire was distributed to paediatric speech and language therapists in England. Survey questions addressed number of eligible children, routine intervention provision and trial recruitment factors. In the second phase, a single-arm intervention feasibility study was completed. Fifteen speech and language practitioners identified 24 children aged 5–11 years with SPCD. Practitioners received training/supervision to deliver 20 SCIP therapy sessions to each child. At time 1, parents of participating children provided three communication goals; expected steps in each goal were defined. After intervention, parents and practitioners independently rated each goal compared to baseline ability. Two research practitioners compared parent post-intervention commentaries with outcome scores to derive guidance about clinical significance. All practitioners recorded audio commentaries on therapy experiences. Post-intervention interviews were conducted with 6 practitioners and 6 parents. An expert panel completed a Delphi consultation on trial design.ResultsRoutine practice for SPCD varies widely. Children tend to be embedded in autism provision. Participation in a future trial was well supported provided resources are available to services. Outcomes analysis indicated all children except one made some progress on parent ratings; all children made progress on practitioner ratings. A power analysis for a future trial was carried out using current outcome measure as putative primary endpoint. Practitioners’ audio-diaries provided suggestions for training and adaption in a future trial. Outcomes and therapy methods were acceptable to practitioners and parents.ConclusionsThe feasibility study evaluated a novel outcome measure of social communication skills in SPCD. A power calculation indicated a feasible framework for a trial within a realistic period of time. Recommendations for recruitment methods, adaptation of manual and training were supported by practitioners and an expert panel.Trial registrationTitle: Speech-language therapy for child social communication disorderTrial ID: ISRCTN48030419. Date registered: January 1, 2017. Registered retrospectively.

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