Background: Parent-child interaction therapies are commonly used in early
intervention for young children with Down syndrome (DS), however evidence of their effectiveness is limited. This study aimed to explore the effectiveness of one such intervention designed for a group of infants with DS by addressing the following research questions.
1. Does the intervention encourage the development of language and communication in infants with DS?
2. Does the intervention change the way parents interact and communicate with their infants with DS?
Method: A single-subject multiple-baseline design was employed. Seven children and their
mothers took part in the study. All children were aged between 10-17 months at the time of entry. Standardised assessments, parental report and observational measures were used to capture change for each parent and child. Data was collected at regular time points
over the 10 months of the intervention, with follow up data collected 3 months later.
Results: Preliminary results indicate improvements in receptive vocabulary, use of key word signs, gesture use and ability to respond to joint attention in most children. Children who attend all three terms of the intervention seemed to benefit more from the programme. Most parents were also successful in improving their ability to follow their child’s lead, join in and play and incorporate a time delay into parent-child interactions. Many parents also used more developmentally appropriate language and increased their use of labelling and repetition of key words post-intervention. The follow up data will be further examined to determine whether these changes were maintained.
Conclusions: The programme was tailored for infants with DS and showed some success in promoting language and communicative intentions while also upskilling the parents in specific communication and interaction strategies. Future research and key factors for success in this intervention will be discussed.