Evaluating the effectiveness of oral language interventions in children with neurodevelopmental disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Evaluating the effectiveness of oral language interventions in children with neurodevelopmental disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis

First Author: Enrica Donolato -- Department of Special Needs Education, Oslo (Norway)
Additional authors/chairs: 
Enrico Toffalini; Anders Nordahl-Hansen; Courtenay Frazier Norbury; Arne Lervåg; Monica Melby-Lervag
Keywords: Oral Language, Intervention studies, Meta-analysis, Developmental Disabilities, evidence-based practice
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: Oral language problems are a common feature across neurodevelopmental disorders, although such disorders have genetic or multifactorial etiologies. Thus, children with intellectual disability, language disorder, autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, Williams syndrome, and Fragile X syndrome could benefit from interventions targeting oral language skills both to sustain their communication abilities and to strengthen their development of cognitive and social abilities. Here we aim to assess the effectiveness and conditions of effectiveness of oral language interventions in these populations.
Method: The present meta-analysis is registered at the Campbell Systematic Reviews (Nordahl‐Hansen, Donolato, Lervåg, Norbury, & Melby‐Lervåg, 2019). The literature search was conducted in several databases including the Cochrane and the Campbell Library, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, EBSCO, ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Following the inclusion and exclusion criteria defined in the protocol, 53 studies have been identified.
Results: The coding phase is still ongoing; once completed, the analysis will be performed (in due time for the conference). We will analyze the mean effect size, and consider several moderators, including the training dosage, the setting in which the intervention was delivered, the delivery agents, and the intervention design. Children age and diagnosis, and components of oral language (i.e., vocabulary, grammar, and semantic language), will be assessed as relevant factors that can influence the response to the treatment.
Conclusions: This study will give an evidence overview of what is effective and what still needs further focus. This will aid both researchers and clinicians to direct further efforts in investigating this topic and how to provide high-quality clinical interventions.