Last Updated on 24 June 2021 by Brogan Lambert

Two researchers from Vanderbilt University, Megan Roberts and Ann Kaiser, reviewed 18 different studies which evaluated parent-implemented intervention offered to groups of parents. T

The authors begin their article by citing research that shows that children’s communication improves when parents:

  • interact more with their child
  • respond to their child’s attempts to communicate
  • use “child-directed speech” (talk about what the child is focused on or interested in, using simplified, melodic speech)
  • emphasize important words in a sentence (e.g. “you’re eating a BANANA!”)
  • expand on what the child has said (e.g. Child says, “Key”. Parent says, “Yes that’s the key for the car.”

What the Study Review Found

  1. As a result of participating in parent-implemented training programs, parents successfully learned the strategies and used them when interacting with their child.
  2. Parents had a positive effect on their child’s communication development. Parents’ use of strategies led to improvements in their child’s expressive skills (nonverbal communication as well as speech), understanding, vocabulary, grammar, and the frequency with which their child communicated.
  3. Parents were just as effective at helping their child as speech-language pathologists were. In fact, parents were actually more effective than speech-language pathologists when working on improving the child’s understanding of language and grammar.
  4. Children with a variety of language difficulties made good progress when their parents were trained to help them. This includes children with Language Impairment, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Developmental Delay.

Bottom Line: Parents Make a Difference!

This study shows that children with a variety of communication difficulties make good progress when their parents learn to use specific techniques designed to improve the children’s communication skills. It also shows that trained parents are as effective – if not more effective in some cases – than speech-language pathologists at helping their child. This confirms that parents should be partners with speech-language pathologists in the therapy process.

Research shows that children with communication difficulties make the most progress when they receive early intervention. The best kind of early intervention involves the parents and is intensive. Parent-implemented intervention is effective not only because the parent plays a key role, but because intervention becomes an ongoing process; every interaction with the child becomes an opportunity to build his or her language learning. As Kaiser and Robert’s review shows, programs that provide effective training to parents, can make a significant difference to a child’s language outcomes.

Note regarding ongoing speech therapy services:  After the parent-implemented program ends, many children still require ongoing speech therapy. While the children show improvement in their communication skills, parents still need guidance from the speech-language therapist as the child’s skills change and develop. The kind of intervention offered will vary; it may involve consultation to parents, direct therapy or offering parents a program to implement in the home.


Roberts, M., & Kaiser, A. (2011). The Effectiveness of Parent-Implemented Language Intervention: A Meta-Analysis. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology20, 180-199. (ajs20302 180..199 (