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Becoming a manual occupation? The construction of a research therapy manual for use with language impaired children in mainstream schools

McCartney, E. and Boyle, James and Bannatyne, Susan and Jessiman, Emma and Kelsey, Cherry and Smith, Jennifer and O'Hare, Anne (2004) Becoming a manual occupation? The construction of a research therapy manual for use with language impaired children in mainstream schools. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 39 (1). pp. 135-148. ISSN 1368-2822

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Abstract

The construction of therapy protocols for a large-scale randomized controlled trial comparing speech and language therapists and assistants, and group and individual therapy approaches for children aged 6-11 in mainstream schools is outlined. A search of the research and professional literature and of published therapy materials was conducted to locate usable examples of effective language therapy for primary school children. Results were collated into a manual of therapy principles and activities to structure research intervention. The use of the manual with children (n=30) receiving individual or group direct therapy from a speech and language therapist in the first phase of intervention was audited. Very few high-level research studies were found, but the professional literature gave added information. Therapies for comprehension monitoring, vocabulary development, later grammar and narrative were adapted for the research intervention, and procedures compiled into a manual to guide research speech and language therapists and assistants. The audit of direct therapy suggested that the manual was useable, providing a suitable range of activities and materials for therapy intervention. Its use helped to record the therapy offered to research children, and formed a sound basis for discussion amongst speech and language therapists and between speech and language therapist/assistant pairs. The construction and use of a therapy manual allowed the provision of replicable therapy within the research project whilst maintaining flexibility.