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Children communicating at a visit to Manchester Museum

Social Communication Intervention Programme

Single Cases In Practice - a research project by The University of Manchester

Social communication skills matter. In friendship, in school, and in society.

Our research is refining a speech and language therapy intervention that will improve the communication skills of children with Social Communication Disorder (SCD). This has the potential to make a profound difference to the quality of their lives.

What is the study about?

In previous research we showed that a new speech and language therapy programme for children with language, pragmatic and social communication difficulties brought about changes in their social communication and conversation skills.

The new therapy is called SCIP. This stands for Social Communication Intervention Programme. SCIP was delivered by a team of research speech and language therapists (SLT) and specially trained therapy assistants. It was delivered to children aged 6-11 years old in their mainstream primary schools.

The current research will find out if SCIP works when delivered by speech and language therapists who are not researchers but who have experience of working with children who have language, pragmatic and social communication difficulties.

We will also develop a new way to measure changes in communication skills that are meaningful to families and we want to find out how many children with language, pragmatic and social communication skills are receiving speech and language services.

The new study is called SCIP2. This stands for Social Communication Intervention Programme: Single Cases In Practice.

It is funded by the National Institute for Health Research’s RESEARCH FOR PATIENT BENEFIT.

NHS ethical approval was gained from the Health Research Authority (North West – Liverpool Central Research Ethics Committee) on the 4 August 2016 (IRAS project number: 188072).


More information

What is social communication disorder (SCD)?

Children with SCD find it hard to understand and use language, especially in social situations, this can sometimes be called Pragmatic Language Impairment. They may show some mild features of autism.

This can affect how well they learn at school, their friendships and emotional/mental health as they grow up.             

This can have a big impact on families and is expensive for the NHS and social services.

An effective communication intervention may be able to prevent some of these problems – but there is currently insufficient research to support this. That is where our study comes in.

More information about children who have SCD (PDF, 71KB)

What is the SCIP intervention?

Our previous work developed a new speech and language therapy intervention called the Social Communication Intervention Programme (SCIP).

This intervention was given in schools, and parents and teachers felt it led to improvements in social communication, conversation skills and classroom learning skills.

More information about the SCIP intervention (PDF, 349KB)

What is the SCIP2 study?

We need to undertake a bigger study now in order to show that the SCIP intervention does work. To find out how best to design a bigger study we are carrying out a feasibility study.

We have called this feasibility study SCIP2 because we are testing the Social Communication Intervention Programme (SCIP) through Single Cases in Practice (SCIP). SCIP x SCIP = SCIP2.

More information about SCIP2 for SLTs

The background to the SCIP2 project (PDF, 77KB)

How are we involving children and their families?

In addition to those who will be taking part in the study, we are involving children and parents in designing the study and helping to write about and share the results of our research.

If you are a parent/carer of a child with SCD and would like to be involved in designing future research, please contact our research assistant Laura.


INVOLVE is national advisory group to support members of the public who wish to get involved in NHS, public health and social care research.

Child's painting of flowers

Getting in touch...

If you have any questions, please email Laura Clitheroe , our Research Assistant.

Stay informed

You can stay up to date with progress of our research via Twitter.

This project presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme (Grant Reference Number PB-PG-1014-35011). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.

All images used are for illustrative purposes only. The children featured have not been identified for the study and have no language, pragmatic and/or social communication difficulties.