An effectiveness study of a parent-child interaction therapy with children with Down syndrome

Thumbnail Image
CroninSM_MRes2020.pdf(2.33 MB)
Full Text E-thesis
Cronin, Sarah Marie
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University College Cork
Published Version
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
Background: Parents of children with Down syndrome (DS) often demonstrate directive parenting styles which can impede on their child’s communication development. For that reason, parent-child interaction therapies have shown to be an effective form of early intervention for children with DS as it facilitates parent coaching while also addressing the specific communication needs of children with DS. This study aimed to explore the effectiveness of the PELD (Promotion of Early Language Development) intervention offered by a speech and language therapy (SLT) service for individuals with DS. The study aimed to explore the impact this programme had on the language development and communicative interactions of children with DS, while also exploring the change in the interaction and communication strategies employed by their parents. Methodology: A single-subject multiple-baseline design was employed to evaluate the effectiveness of the PELD intervention. Seven child participants and their mothers took part in the study. All participants were aged between 10-17 months at the time of entry. Three terms of the intervention were offered over a 10 month period and families had the option of completing all or some of the terms. Data was collected over three to five time points depending on when the child commenced the intervention. Standardised assessments, parental report and observational measures were used to capture change for both the parent and child. Results: Improvements in receptive vocabulary, use of key word signs, gesture use and a child’s ability to respond to joint attention were noted in the majority of child participants. Children who attended all three terms of the intervention seemed to benefit the most from the PELD programme as they demonstrated a wide range of gestures, understood the most words and used the most Lámh signs post-intervention as reported by their parents. With regards to parent outcomes, all parents were successful in adapting their parenting style and a notable increase in each parents’ ability to follow their child’s lead, join in and play and incorporate a time delay into parent-child interactions was observed. Parents also used language that was developmentally appropriate for their children and increased their use of labelling and repetition of key words post-intervention. Conclusions: The PELD programme is the first parent-child interaction therapy to be tailored specifically to children with DS who are of a very young age. There was some indication that the PELD intervention can support the development of early language skills and the communicative intentions of young children with DS while also upskilling their parents in specific communication and interaction strategies that promote the language development of their child.
Down syndrome , Parent-child interaction therapy , Parent-mediated intervention , Communication , Early intervention
Cronin, S. M. 2020. An effectiveness study of a parent-child interaction therapy with children with Down syndrome. MRes Thesis, University College Cork.
Link to publisher’s version