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Executive function intervention (Senter et al., 2023)

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Version 2 2023-03-31, 22:18
Version 1 2022-10-28, 20:22
posted on 2023-03-31, 22:18 authored by Reed Senter, Jason C. Chow, Emma C. Willis

Purpose: The purpose of this synthesis was to systematically review the research and guidance for school-based speech-language pathologists (SLPs) who provide intervention to children with developmental executive function (EF) deficits, particularly those children with co-occurring developmental language disorder (DLD).

Method: We conducted a structured search of four major electronic databases, as well as a manual review of references and journals, which yielded 4,571 nonduplicate articles. We screened first titles and abstracts and then full texts to identify peer-reviewed articles, dissertations, and theses containing research or guidance for SLPs’ interventions for children with co-occurring DLD and EF deficits; this process yielded 27 articles for analysis. We categorized these studies by type of publication and synthesized their contents to assess the evidence base for EF interventions in children with DLD and to evaluate the guidance for SLP-implemented direct and indirect interventions.

Results: A small body of research explores the efficacy of SLPs’ intervention for children with co-occurring DLD and EF deficits, generally finding modest but inconsistent effects of cognitive interventions and strategy training to improve language outcomes. Meanwhile, nonempirical articles (e.g., tutorials) offer guidance to SLPs to support students with EF deficits through direct and indirect services.

Conclusions: A growing body of literature equips SLPs with the principles and strategies of EF intervention. Many of these articles are sourced from literature about children with EF deficits or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, but few empirical studies measure the efficacy of these interventions for children with co-occurring DLD.

Supplemental Material S1. PRISMA flow diagram. 

Senter, R., Chow, J. C. & Willis, E. C. (2023). Speech-language pathology interventions for children with executive function deficits: A systematic literature review. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 54(1), 336–354.