Teaching 1:1 workers to support young children with CCN (summary)

young children

Background In school and preschool settings 1:1 support workers (paraeducators) are important and frequent communication partners for young children who have complex communication needs. There has been little research into impact of training on the way these support workers communicate with the children during play.

What was the aim of the study? The authors aimed to look at the effect of training for the workers on the number of communication opportunities provided for children during play activities and the number of communication turns taken by children.

What did the authors do? They worked with 3 support workers and the children they worked with, within an early years setting. They initially measured the communication behaviours of the workers and children in play sessions and then offered two hours of individual training to each of the workers. Focussing on the following strategies:

  • IPLAN = Identify activities for communication, Provide means for communication, Locate and provide vocabulary, Arrange environment, use iNteraction strategies;
  • MORE = Model AAC, Offer opportunities for communication, Respond to communication, Extend communication.

Following the training five maintenance play sessions were carried out and communication behaviours were measured again. They also asked the participants how they felt about the training undertaken and looked at whether the children's teachers saw any value from the intervention.

What did they find? Each of the workers was found to offer a large increase in the number of communication opportunities they offered to the child they worked with after the training, however over time the level of increase reduced. All 3 of the children showed an increase in the number of communication turns during the training period.

The support workers and teachers all believed that the training had been beneficial.

Cautions: The small number of participants all from the same place, and the variability in the results, means that generalisations cannot be made about the potential effectiveness of this training to a wider range of people.

There was no direct intervention with the children, or training in adding vocabulary to their AAC systems. The result might have been different if these things had also been addressed.

This paper focussed only on play without peers and individual training for support workers. There is also a need to look into training workers to support group play activities and to consider training offered to teams or groups of educators.

Conclusions: Offering training packages on skills to support communication can increase the number of communication opportunities offered and the number of communication turns taken by children who have CCN. Further research is needed into this area.

Things you may want to look into:

The use of augmentative and alternative communication methods with infants and toddlers with disabilities: a research review

Added to site January 2014