Evidence based pathways for interventions for children with Language Disorders

Ebbels, S. H., McCartney, E., Slonims, V., Dockrell, J. E., & Norbury, C. F. (2019). Evidence‐based pathways to intervention for children with language disorders. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 54(1), 3-19.

Aim of the paper:

This paper looks at existing evidence to understand how effective different interventions are for children with language disorders. The authors also aim to understand the role of speech and language therapist (SLT) in these interventions, and whether interventions delivered by parents and other professionals under the guidance of SLT are effective as well.

Based on the reviewed evidence, the authors hope to build a model of service delivery. This will help professionals decide which type of help is the best for different children.

What was found:

  • The different levels of support are summarised below:

  • T1 - High quality teaching and interaction for all children

  • T2 - Education-led groups with language programme for children with language vulnerabilities

  • T3a - Indirect (not provided by SLTs, but guided by SLTs) individualized intervention for children with mild language difficulties

  • T3b - Direct individualized intervention (provided by SLTs) for children with pervasive language disorder or difficulties


  • All children and children with vulnerability can benefit from interventions delivered by well-trained and supported staff from schools.

  • Children with mild language difficulties can benefit from interventions when delivered by parents and other professionals under close guidance and support from SLT.

  • Children with a pervasive language disorder can benefit from intervention when directly managed and delivered by SLT.

What does this mean?

Under limited resource, it is difficult for every child to receive direct intervention from SLTs. However, this paper shows that children with different levels of difficulty may benefit from different levels of intervention. Therefore, parents should explore different services for their child, given that professionals are often supported and trained by SLTs to deliver effective interventions. And most importantly, the level of support should match the child’s level of language difficulty.

Where can I read this paper?

This paper is unfortunately not open access, but the accepted version of the paper can be found here.