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.