Language Development and Disorders (LDD): research projects

Research studies

Perceptions of the value of an intensive intervention for children with pragmatic language impairments from educational and family perspectives


The qualitative study focussed on eight children with pragmatic language impairment who had received school-based intervention as part of the Social Communication Intervention Project (SCIP), a RCT based in Manchester and Edinburgh. Alongside the quantitative outcome measures used in the larger study, it was important to understand the intervention process from the point of view of the children, their parents and teachers. These children have complex difficulties, affected by different social contexts, which, makes changes in the child’s functional communication difficult to measure. Therefore, it was useful to gain parent and teacher opinion in relation to intervention programmes and assessing progress.

Duration of the project


Funding body

Funded by the British Academy and affiliated to the SCIP project which is funded by the Nuffield Foundation

Members of the project

Dr Elaine LocktonPrincipal investigator
Dr Catherine AdamsInvestigator
Dr Janet BaxendaleCollaborator

Aims of study

The project explored the following issues:

  1. an understanding of parent, child and teacher perceptions of the effects of PLI for the child in different contexts
  2. an understanding of parent, child and teacher views around the process and experience of undertaking SLT intervention
  3. an understanding of what parents, children and teachers perceive as important changes in the child’s communication, including those that they perceive to result from intervention



The study involved 24 individual semi-structured interviews with parents, teachers and children who have PLI. The eight PLI children were purposively selected from the larger cohort involved in the RCT. Analysis followed the framework method which allowed a combination of predetermined themes and newly generated themes to be investigated (Ritchie & Spencer, 1994). The project involved analysis of individual cases and generation of themes across cases using N Vivo 7. 




Social context

  • The different perspectives of teachers and parents as to the impact of a child’s social communication difficulties are important to incorporate when planning intervention
  • The data collected suggests additional areas that may need to be focussed on within an intervention package, for example, educating staff about issues that may arise during play times


  • The data suggested which objectives within an intervention package made most impact on the child as perceived by parents and teachers. This has resource and efficacy implications.
  • Indirect approaches to liaison with parents proved effective in transferring information as did very brief meetings with teachers.


  • Intervention was shown to be effective, in very functional ways, in improving a child’s language, social communication, and emotional well-being, from parent, child and teacher perspectives.
  • The data suggests that further work would be beneficial in developing and collating existing outcome measures that capture the functional impacts of intervention for this population of children.