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Feasibility of communication training for parents of preschool children with motor disorders with remote coaching using smartphone apps

Lookup NU author(s): Katy Stockwell, Dan JacksonORCiD, Dr Anna BasuORCiD, Professor Patrick OlivierORCiD, Professor Lindsay Pennington



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Wiley, 2019.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Background: Communication training for parents of young children with neurodisability is often delivered in groups and includes video coaching. Group teaching is problematic when there is wide variation in characteristics and needs amongst participants. Aims: To assess the potential feasibility and acceptability of delivering one-to-one parent training supported by remote coaching using smartphone apps and of conducting further trials of the intervention. Methods and procedures: We aimed to recruit eight children aged 12-48 months with motor disorders and communication difficulties and to provide families with individual parent training in six weekly home visits supplemented by remote coaching via smartphone apps. For outcome measurement, parents recorded their interaction with their child thrice weekly during baseline (three weeks), intervention, post-intervention (three weeks) follow-up (1 week). Measures comprised parent responsiveness and counts of children’s communication and vocalisation. Research design feasibility was measured through rates of recruitment, attrition, outcome measure completion and agreement between raters on outcome measurement. Intervention feasibility was assessed through the proportion of therapy sessions received, the number of videos and text messages shared using the apps in remote coaching, and message content. Parents were interviewed about the acceptability of the intervention and trial design. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using inductive thematic analysis. Outcomes and Results: Nine children were recruited over 16 weeks. All fitted the inclusion criteria. Four families withdrew from the study. Five families completed the intervention. No family submitted the target number of video recordings for outcome measurement. Inter-rater agreement was moderate for child communication (K=0.46) and vocalisation (K=0.60) and high for RAACS (rs 0.96). Parents who completed the intervention reported positive experiences of the programme and remote coaching via the apps. Therapist messages via the app contained comments on parent and child behaviour and requests for parental reflection/action; parental messages contained reflections on children’s communication. Conclusions and Implications: The intervention and study design demanded high levels of parental involvement and was not suitable for all families. Recording shorter periods of interaction via mobile phones or using alternative methods of data collection may increase feasibility of outcome measurement.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Stockwell C, Alabdulqader E, Jackson D, Basu A, Olivier P, Pennington L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: International Journal of Language and Communication

Year: 2019

Volume: 54

Issue: 2

Pages: 265-280

Print publication date: 01/04/2019

Online publication date: 08/03/2019

Acceptance date: 24/02/2019

Date deposited: 25/02/2019

ISSN (electronic): 1460-6984

Publisher: Wiley


DOI: 10.1111/1460-6984.12468


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