An Efficacy Trial of Enhanced Milieu Teaching Language Interventionwith Language Delayed Toddlers
The goal of the proposed project is to conduct an efficacy trial (Goal 3) to determine whether Enhanced Milieu Teaching (EMT) significantly improves language deficits in young children at high risk for persistent language delays. The target population is children ages 24 -36 months who exhibit significant co-occurring delays in productive and receptive language skills, who have cognitive skills within the range of normal development, and who do not have other identified disabilities. An empirically based and manualized language intervention, Enhanced Milieu Teaching (EMT), implemented by therapists and parents will be compared to community based "business as usual" services in a randomized experiment enrolling 120 children and their parents. Children assigned to the EMT group will receive 24, 1-hour sessions of direct intervention at home that will include teaching their parents to implement EMT procedures across activities. Children will be assessed at 4 time points (before and after intervention, at 6 months and 12 months post-intervention) allowing the description and comparison of individual language growth trajectories over a period of 18 months. In addition, we will examine the relation between language growth and emergent problems in behavior and social skill development to determine whether early language intervention can prevent these difficulties frequently associated with early language delays. Results from this study will determine the efficacy of parent-plus-therapist implemented EMT with a new population of children, provide evidence about the potential for preventing persistent language delays and secondary social effects of early language delays, and expand developmental theory linking persistent language delays to specific risk factors and behavioral outcomes. The results of this study will have specific policy implications related to early identification and the inclusion of young children with language delays as a target population for early intervention.