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Is Strategies and measurable interaction in Live English (smiLE) therapy feasible, acceptable and can support communication development for teenagers with Down Syndrome

Schamroth, K., Anning, E., Jakubowicz, J. , Rowlands, S., Saxby, A. & Morgan, S. ORCID: 0000-0002-7573-4290 (2023). Is Strategies and measurable interaction in Live English (smiLE) therapy feasible, acceptable and can support communication development for teenagers with Down Syndrome


‘Strategies’ and ‘measurable interaction’ in ‘Live English’, smiLE therapy™1 is an approach originally developed for Deaf children but may be suitable for children with other needs, including Learning Disabilities.

This service evaluation project aimed to:
- Explore the feasibility and acceptability of smiLE therapy™ for teenagers with Down Syndrome
- Identify differences in children’s communication skills before and after therapy and whether these were maintained and/or generalised post-therapy.

Teenage children with Down Syndrome were offered smiLE therapy™ by a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT). Data was collected as typical for this intervention across 3-time points: before therapy, after therapy and 5-months following. Data included videos of the ‘office request’ communication task, communication skills checklists, videos of child feedback, videos of parent sessions, alongside an additional parent feedback survey. This ethically approved service evaluation was completed by Speech and Language Therapy students with data analysis using descriptive statistics and directed content analysis.

Four child participants took part. Checklists demonstrated all participants’ communication skills increased.  One participant maintained 100% of task skills after 5-months, with two participants maintaining 94% of their skills. There were no maintenance measures for one participant. Parent questionnaire responses revealed smiLE therapy™ was acceptable and feasible for them and their child. They reported that their children demonstrated improvements in communication outside of therapy sessions, which were maintained. Parent group videos found similar results. The most discussed topics were: smiLE therapy™ acceptability, changes in their child’s participation and skills. They reported improvements in both child participation and skills and were positive about the therapy. Acceptability was questioned in relation to community environmental barriers and its impact on practising skills learnt.

This service evaluation gives a positive indication that smiLE therapy™ is feasible, acceptable and can support communication development for this group.

Thank you to the charity that commissioned this intervention, the children and parents that took part and gave consent for their data to be analysed. Karin is the creator of smiLE therapy™ and company director.

Publication Type: Poster
Additional Information: Presented at: British Academy of Childhood Disability Annual Scientific Meeting on 22 June 2023.
Publisher Keywords: Down Syndrome, Participation, Service Evaluation, Speech & Language Therapy
Subjects: R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of BACD_2023_Poster.smiLE.v1.pptx] Slideshow - Submitted Version
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