Parent Child Interaction Blog 1

Parent Interaction Therapy at Meath School

At I CAN’s Meath School we have been trialling Parent Interaction Therapy (PCI) and Adult Interaction therapy (ACI) with our pupils. This approach is an adult/parent based intervention for young children with language delay or disorders. It aims to support language by improving the communication environment and does so through giving parents and carers strategies that can help the development of children’s communication and language.

There is a well established evidence base supporting PCI and ACI therapy suggesting that this therapy is effective for developing social interaction, early language, communication and play skills. The underlying principle of this approach assumes that language is normally a robust process which develops naturally, however where children are experiencing difficulties with communication development, language can be adapted to ensure no communication opportunities are missed. The therapy is successful because the parents/carers and practitioners know the child well and can provide information about them, while the speech and language therapist provides knowledge of ways to support language acquisition. This enables the combining of parent’s insight and experience with the therapist’s knowledge and observations.

At Meath School, the process involves the therapist recording a five minute video of the adult playing with the child. The video is vital as it allows the child’s communication attempts to be captured without the immediacy being lost. The adult and therapist watch the video together and discuss the interaction. The parent then selects a strategy which will help to develop the child’s interaction and communication. Within the same session a second video is recorded allowing the adult to practise their chosen strategy and see the positive results.

Parents are also asked to set aside special play time (usually ten minutes daily) where they play with their child and implement the strategy.  They then return the following week and the process can be repeated allowing positive result to be shared and further strategies to be tried.

At Meath School children have been selected based on their language level; many of the children who begin with us are just starting to use increased language and this seems the perfect time to offer PCI to families. It has also been used as a method for helping new staff to learn how to interact with the children and to communicate at the right language level. The results have been positive and we plan to work with more families in this way to support them in developing their child’s communication in a fun and play based way.