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Language through music intervention (Frizelle et al., 2024)

online resource
posted on 2024-06-11, 16:50 authored by Pauline Frizelle, Eva McMullan, Eibhlín Looney, Darren Dahly, Ciara O’Toole, Nicola Hart

Background: Few studies have explored the feasibility of online language interventions for young children with Down syndrome. Additionally, none have manipulated dose frequency or reported on the use of music as a medium through which language and sign can be learned.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to (a) examine the feasibility and acceptability of an online language through music intervention for young children (1–3;6 years) with Down syndrome and (b) compare effectiveness at two intervention dose frequencies.

Method: The study was carried out in two phases using a mixed-methods design. Phase 1: Qualitative data were gathered from parents to examine feasibility when implementing a video-based language intervention. Phase 2: Seventy-six families participated in an online language intervention at home. Effectiveness was examined comparing two groups, randomly assigned to a high and low dose frequency. The Down Syndrome Education (DSE) checklists (combined) were the primary outcome measure. Process data were gathered to determine intervention acceptability in practice and to identify factors that would improve successful future implementation. Acceptability data were analyzed with reference to the theoretical framework of acceptability (Version 2).

Results: Forty-three parents completed the Phase 1 scoping questionnaire, five of whom took part in focus groups. Once weekly morning sessions were indicated as the preferred scheduling choice. Phase 2 quantitative data were analyzed using beta regression adjusted for baseline scores and indicated no additional benefit to receiving the higher dose. However, exploratory interaction models suggested that the efficacy of the high-dose intervention was higher (than low-dose intervention) in participants with higher baseline DSE performance. Parents perceived the intervention to be effective and positive for the family.

Conclusion: The results add to our knowledge of real-world effective online interventions and suggest that a critical minimum language level is required for children with Down syndrome to benefit optimally from a higher intervention dose frequency.

Supplemental Material S1. Scoping questionnaire.

Supplemental Material S2. Vocabulary list and corresponding dose for each song.

Supplemental Material S3. Post-intervention questionnaire.

Supplemental Material S4. Exploratory interaction model of dosage with baseline DSE performance.

Frizelle, P., McMullan, E., Looney, E., Dahly, D., O’Toole, C., & Hart, N. (2024). The feasibility of an online language program delivered through music and the impact of dosage on vocabulary outcomes in young children with Down syndrome. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 33(4), 2002–2022.


This feasibility and effectiveness trial was carried out with the support of the Irish Research Council New Foundations Strand 1a Civic Society Partnership Award.