Collaborative working in speech and language therapy for children with DLD-What are parents' needs?

Inge S Klatte*, Manon Bloemen, Annemieke de Groot, Tina C Mantel, Marjolijn Ketelaar, Ellen Gerrits

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Collaborative practice between therapists and parents is a key element of family-centred care and is essential if we want to address family priorities and needs in interventions. However, collaborative practice is challenging for speech and language therapists (SLTs) and parents. To facilitate collaboration, collaborative practices need to be implemented into speech and language therapy for young children with developmental language disorders (DLD) and their families. Actual change and implementation of collaboration in practice will be successful only when it corresponds with patients' needs, in our case the needs of parents of young children with DLD.

AIMS: To explore parents' needs in their collaboration with SLTs during therapy for their young child with DLD.

METHODS & PROCEDURES: Parents of children with (a risk of) DLD in the age of 2-6 years were eligible for participation. We recruited parents via SLTs. Twelve parents of children with DLD participated in semi-structured interviews about their needs in collaboration with SLTs. We used a phenomenological approach focusing on parents' lived experiences. We transcribed the interviews verbatim. All interviews were read/listened to and discussed by our parent panel, multiple researchers and the interviewer. Two researchers independently analysed the data using the reflective thematic analysis of Braun and Clarke.

OUTCOMES & RESULTS: The analysis of the interviews resulted in six themes: (1) knowing what to expect, (2) knowing how to contribute, (3) feeling capable of supporting the child, (4) trusting the therapist, (5) alignment with parents and children's needs, preferences and priorities and (6) time and space for asking questions and sharing information.

CONCLUSIONS & IMPLICATIONS: Parents want SLTs to invest time in collaborating with them. Parents need SLTs to empower them to become a collaborative partner and enable them to support their child in daily life. Parents need knowledge about the therapy process and diagnosis and skills in how to support their child's language development. Also, they need emotional support to feel secure enough to support their child, to ask questions to therapists and to bring up their own thoughts and opinions in therapy. Parents' needs are in line with collaborative working as described in literature, which underlines the importance of implementing collaborative working in speech and language therapy for young children with DLD.

WHAT THIS PAPER ADDS: What is already known on the subject Several reviews have explored parents' perspectives on speech and language therapy. Results reveal parents' experiences with speech and language therapy in general, and parents' perspectives on specific topics such as shared decision-making and parents/therapists roles in therapy. What this study adds This study adds insights into parents' needs to ensure collaboration with speech and language therapists (SLTs). Parents of young children with developmental language disorders (DLD) need SLTs to invest time to create optimal collaboration. It is important for parents to have enough knowledge about DLD and the SLT process, skills and confidence in how to support their child and opportunities to share thoughts and questions with SLTs. Our results underline the importance of parents being empowered by SLTs to become a collaborative partner. What are the clinical implications of this work? When children are referred to speech and language therapy, parents often venture into an unknown journey. They need support from SLTs to become a collaborative partner in speech and language therapy. Parents need SLTs to invest time in sharing knowledge, skills and power and align therapy to parents' and child's needs, preferences, priorities and expectations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-353
Number of pages14
JournalInternational journal of language & communication disorders
Issue number1
Early online date16 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024


  • DLD
  • collaboration
  • parents’ needs
  • speech and language therapy


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