Guest Author: Marisa Bierenfeld (M.S. CF- SLP)
The Communication Play Protocol (CPP) is used for various populations such as children who are typically developing, children with developmental disabilities including Autism, and children who utilize AAC. This semi-naturalistic intervention approach can be explained by comparing the CPP to a “play.” The child is the main actor/actress, the playroom/ environment is the “stage,” and the “props” are the toys and materials used. The “plot/theme” are objectives/goals that vary based on the child’s needs. For example, “plots” can be the child learning how to take turns, or the child communicating, “I want the toy on the shelf.” These objectives help the child learn different communication intentions; social interactions and requesting. The “scenes” are short, not lasting more than a few minutes on each objective.
The sessions are considered semi-structured due to the suggestions made by the professional, materials used, and set goals. Sessions are designed so that parents are directly interacting with the child and facilitating therapy. The professional provides the parent with “cue cards” or suggestions in the beginning of the “scene” to assist in learning and eliciting the targeted skill. Suggestions may include the parent modeling the display on the AAC device to help teach a new skill or allowing wait time for the child to independently perform the task.
If a child is using an AAC device, the toys and objects used can focus on the core and fringe vocabulary programmed on the device. This allows real-life opportunities for children to use learned vocabulary or practice communication intentions using their AAC device. Therapy goals ideally are constructed based on the child’s specific needs and can be modified based on child’s progress and level of support required during therapy. For example, scenes can be adapted to a more complex skill based on the child’s advancement of the skill. This semi-structure environment allows professionals to let parents know what is expected of them and the child.
There are numerous benefits when applying CPP in therapy. Parent involvement is always critical during intervention, thus they have such an active role in therapy sessions, working directly with their child. This concept not only helps with the parent-child relationship, but allows a more natural interaction for the child learning a skill. Videotaping and saving the videotapes allows the parents to self-reflect on their active role in the session, discuss the child’s progress with the professional and discuss next steps in intervention. This also allows to capture real-time communication interactions between parent and child as well as observing child communication patterns. Benefits of videotaping sessions allows professionals and parents to compare learned skills before and after intervention as well as monitoring progress between sessions as the child becomes proficient in a skill. When measuring goals, the professional can be as specific or as broad as they please. Professionals can rate various skills within each scene, rate the parent’s behavior, or the parent-child interaction.
Communication Play Protocol are observed video-recordings of parent-child interactions during therapy. Parents work with their child in a semi-structured environment given suggestions from professionals. These suggestions are recommended to help the child reach their therapy goals to improve their communication skills and ultimately, their quality of life.
Adamson, L. B., & Bakeman, R. (2016). The Communication Play Protocol: Capturing Variations in Language Development. Perspectives Of The ASHA Special Interest Groups, 1(12), 164-171. doi:10.1044/persp1.SIG12.164