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Can naturalistic interventions help the vocabulary of children with DLD?

Camarata, S., Stiles, S., & Birer, S. (2024). Naturalistic Developmental Behavioral Interventions for Developmental Language Disorder. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 1-15. doi: 10.1044/2023_AJSLP-23-00116



Key terms that are in this paper:

  • Naturalistic intervention: interventions that help DLD children to learn language and communication in real-life environments.

  • Expressive vocabulary: the words you use to talk or write.

  • Receptive vocabulary: the words you understand when you hear or read it.

  • Cross-modal generalisation: it examines whether interventions that improve receptive vocabulary can also improve expressive vocabulary, and vice versa.


Aim of the paper:

Naturalistic interventions are used to treat language-related symptoms in autism. There were few examples of using naturalistic interventions to help children with DLD. This study aimed to:

  • Test whether a naturalistic intervention can help children with DLD learn expressive and/or receptive vocabulary.

  • Explore the cross-model generalisation in vocabulary learning. That is, whether children learn to use words before they understand them, and vice versa.


What was found:

  • DLD children were better at using and understand words with the help of a naturalistic intervention.

  • Some children learn to use words before they understand them, and others understand words before they can use them.

  • DLD children usually learn to use words before they understand them. Typically developed children may be quicker in understanding new words than DLD children.

  • The ability of cross-modal generalisation also varied between DLD children. They may sometimes be able to understand words before using them.


What does this mean?

  • Naturalistic intervention could help children with DLD learn vocabulary.

  • The ability to generalise varies between individuals. Interventions meeting individuals’ needs within the Naturalistic intervention framework may be more beneficial for children with DLD.

  • Clinicians and researchers could use the naturalistic intervention framework to design language interventions for children with DLD.


Where can I read this paper?

This paper is not open access. If you wish to read the full paper, please email E-DLD@bath.ac.uk and request a copy of the paper.


Research summary written by Shimin Wang

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