Science + Language Virtual Study

Children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) struggle with learning language and with using language to learn academic content. In this study, we ask what language interventions lead to the greatest academic gains in children with DLD. Children with DLD, ages 4-7, may participate. They learn 3 units from a nationally known first grade science curriculum combined with a randomly selected language intervention (recast therapy, robust vocabulary instruction, general language stimulation) in small groups of 2-3 children over Zoom.

We measure which language intervention leads to the greatest language gains and the greatest gains in science learning after 6 weeks of intervention (2 30-minute group lesson per week for a total of 12 lessons). Eligible children primarily speak English, are ages 4-7 (not yet in 1st grade), have difficulty learning and using language, and do not have other significant impairments. Families should have reliable access to the internet and to a device that the child can use to access lessons via Zoom (chromebook, tablet, laptop). This study is conducted with Boystown National Research Hospital – clicking through to learn more will take you to a more complete description housed at on their website.

Recasting and Reading Study

If so, they may be eligible to participate in this research study funded by the National Institutes of Health. We are looking for 5 to 9 year-old children who speak English as their first language and have language delays or disorders. Children may not have a diagnosis of autism, hearing loss, or cognitive impairment. Note that this is a research program; it will not replace the time that your child spends with a speech-language pathologist.

We know that parents are with their child all of the time, and we suspect that parents might be better suited to provide language therapy more frequently and consistently within a child’s routines than their SLP. However, we also know that families are often faced with many pressures and demands which might impact their ability to provide therapy. In this study we want to know: If parents provide language supports within home routines, do children learn language better than if an SLP provides that same language therapy?

Online! This is a national, virtual study. The study is being conducted by researchers at University of Delaware and University of Maryland.

Children who may be eligible:

  • are 5 to 9 years old
  • hear and speak English primarily, both at home and school
  • do not have a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, brain injury, chromosomal disorder, motor disability, and/or psychiatric disorder
  • have a language impairment, delay, or disorder as their primary diagnosis
  • have technology that will allow us to work over the internet

We will meet with you to review paperwork related to the study, complete questionnaires about eligibility, and confirm your internet connection. Then we will meet with you and your child at your convenience for 1-3 screening visits via Zoom to determine if your child fits the criteria for participating in the study. If your child is eligible for the study we will ask if you wish to continue into the intervention phase of the study and review the time commitment for that again. We will meet 1-3 more times to complete pretesting and then your child will be randomly assigned to one of four conditions:

  • recast therapy provided by SLP
  • book reading provided by SLP
  • recast therapy provided by parents
  • book reading provided by parents

Children will receive language supports through completion of their assigned condition for 10 weeks. During this period some parents will be trained and coached to learn the language support strategies. All parents will use a LENA device to record on 16 days. Then, children complete 2 – 3 post-test visits so we can see what they have learned. Though many children can participate semi-independently, we find that it is helpful to have a caregiver present to support participation, particularly during the testing visits.

Children will be paid between $15 and $380 for participating in the study, depending on how many visits they complete.