Authors: Schmitt MB, Tambyraja S, Siddiqui S
Title: Peer Effects in Language Therapy for Preschoolers With Developmental Language Disorder: A Pilot Study
Source: American Journal of Speech Language Pathology 2022 31(4): 1854-1867
Year: 2022
Research Design: Randomised Controlled Trial
Rating Score: 06/10
This rating is confirmed
Eligibility specified - Y
Random allocation - Y
Concealed allocation - N
Baseline comparability - Y
Blind subjects - N
Blind therapists - N
Blind assessors - Y
Adequate follow-up - Y
Intention-to-treat analysis - N
Between-group comparisons - Y
Point estimates and variability - Y

PURPOSE: The purpose of this pilot study was to determine the impact of including peers with typically developing language (TDL) in language intervention sessions for preschool children with diagnosed developmental language disorder (DLD). METHOD: To measure peer effects, participants received 8 weeks of group language intervention in their neighborhood head start. Twenty children with DLD were randomly assigned to one of two conditions. Children in the experimental condition received language intervention with a peer with TDL; children in the control condition received language intervention with another peer with DLD. Pre- and posttest measures of language (semantics, syntax, morphology, and narrative) were collected. Teachers, speech-language pathologists, and assessors were blind to study condition. RESULTS: All children in the study showed gains from pre- to posttest; there were no statistically significant differences between conditions. However, effect size estimates (Cohen's d) indicated that the children in the experimental condition showed an advantage over the control condition in syntax, morphology, and narrative. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides preliminary evidence that children with DLD show increased gains in language when paired with peers with TDL. This finding supports previous research in educational literature, suggesting that children's development is influenced by the skills of their peers. Additional research is warranted to further explore and understand the role of peers for children with DLD.

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