ASHA journals
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Collaboration between child play therapy and speech-language pathology (Loeb et al., 2021)

journal contribution
posted on 2021-10-27, 23:51 authored by Diane Frome Loeb, Eric S. Davis, Tara Lee
Purpose: It has been well documented that a significant number of children with developmental language disorders (DLDs) also exhibit challenging behaviors. In this study, a new intervention (Play and Language [PAL]) was developed through a research collaboration between a speech-language pathologist and a play therapist. The purpose of this clinical focus article is to describe child play therapy techniques and how these, along with early language intervention techniques, may positively impact preschool children’s general communication and behavior.
Method: Students in a communication sciences and disorders program were trained to use a combination of child therapy techniques and language facilitation procedures in the PAL approach. Five preschool children, who displayed DLD and challenging behaviors, participated in a 2-week daily intensive intervention. Pre- and postintervention data for general communication and behavior skills were collected through parent report and language sample data. Student clinician and parent surveys were collected to assess the feasibility of conducting the new intervention and the parent-observed outcomes and satisfaction.
Results: A majority of the children who participated in the study increased their intelligibility and number of different words. Fewer than half increased their sentence length. These same children decreased their challenging behaviors, with 11 of 14 behaviors being reduced to normal levels. All parents reported satisfaction with their child’s results. In addition, students trained to provide the intervention reported high levels of satisfaction with the training to implement PAL and that they were confident in providing the intervention techniques.
Conclusion: Together, our exploratory data provide preliminary and limited evidence that combining play therapy and language facilitation techniques may improve general communication skills and decrease challenging behaviors within the same intervention.

Supplemental Material S1. Parent pre- and postintervention surveys.

Supplemental Material S2. Parent Post-Intervention Survey I.

Supplemental Material S3. Parent Post-Intervention Survey 2.

Supplemental Material S4. Post-Intervention Student Survey.

Loeb, D. F., Davis, E. S., & Lee, T. (2021). Collaboration between child play therapy and speech-language pathology: Case reports of a novel language and behavior intervention. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Advance online publication.


This study was supported by the Martin Family Endowment to the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department at Baylor University to the first author and a Nexus grant to the second author at the University of South Florida. The third author received funding from the Nexus grant to participate.