Authors: Pennington L, Goldbart J, Marshall J
Title: Interaction Training for Conversational Partners of Children with Cerebral Palsy: A Systematic Review
Source: International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders 2004 39(2): 151-170
Year: 2004
Research Design: Systematic Review

Research has shown that children with cerebral palsy have difficulties acquiring communication skills and that conversation with familiar partners follows restricted patterns, which are characterized by high levels of partner control and children's responsivity. Speech and language therapy often includes training for conversational partners to help them recognize children's communicative signals and to create opportunities for children to take a more equal and independent role in conversation. However, the effectiveness of this indirect therapy has not been demonstrated reliably. The aim of this study was to review systematically all experimental research on communication training for conversational partners of children with cerebral palsy and to evaluate the effectiveness of this type of intervention. Four studies were identified from five research reports that met the criteria for inclusion in the review, comprising three group studies and one single case experiment. Common targets for training were observed across the studies. These included positioning of the conversational partner and child for interaction, creating communication opportunities and responding to children's communicative signals. Changes were observed in the conversation patterns used by conversational partners, which should facilitate the communication of children with cerebral palsy. However, the studies contain methodological flaws, and as a result, they cannot demonstrate that the changes were definitely a result of the intervention. Research on the effectiveness of interaction training for conversational partners of children with cerebral palsy is in its early stages. Training has incorporated common targets, which are widely acknowledged by clinicians to affect the communication of children with motor disorders. Trends in behavior change have been suggested by research to date, but further studies that address the methodological inadequacies of the original research are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of this type of intervention. Suggestions of ways to improve the design and reporting of future studies that will allow the mapping of interventions to clients are discussed in this review.

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