'Making Sense of Interventions for Children with Developmental Disorders' Bowen and Snow 2017


Bowen, C. & Snow, P. (2017). Making Sense of Interventions for Children with Developmental Disorders. Guildford: J&R Press. ISBN 978-1-907826-32-0 

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In February 2015, Caroline Bowen and Pamela Snow signed a contract with J&R Press (@JandRPress) to write a book for a broad readership of parents and the wider community, professionals, and health and media publishers, writers and presenters. The book, Making Sense of Interventions for Children with Developmental Disorders (Bowen & Snow, 2017) is about the non-evidence-based 'interventions' that proliferate in the fields of children's speech, language, literacy, fluency, voice, communication, attention, cognition, working memory, behaviour and social connectedness. Clarifying why these interventions don't or won't work, and in some cases why they are risky, the authors also guide readers towards interventions with good credentials that are underpinned by solid theory, good science and common sense. REFERENCES


Pseudoscientific interventions

Non-evidence based, pseudoscientific interventions abound in the fields of education, psychology, medicine, alternative and complementary medicine (CAM), speech and language therapy / speech-language pathology, and allied professions.

They range from costly diets and dietary supplements to alleviate speech problems, to spectacles with coloured lenses that cure dyslexia, to music CDs that boost academic performance and/or social connectedness, to weighted clothing to ameliorate the manifestations of autism and hyperactivity, to curricula devised to remediate specific learning difficulties, and more.

These thrive alongside a raft of pseudoscientific exercise regimens and ‘cures’ for apraxia, ADHD, autism, (C)APD, articulation disorders, dyslexia, stammering (stuttering), voice disorders and behaviours of concern, as well as remedies for a number of ‘made-up’ and/or contested conditions such as Functional Disconnection Disorder, Retained Neonatal Reflexes, Sensory Integration Disorder and Irlen Syndrome.

Parents and professionals

Typically, pseudoscientific interventions are marketed, spruiked and talked-up to parents and professionals, including teachers, speech-language pathologists (SLPs) / speech and language therapists (SLTs), occupational therapists (OTs), psychologists and allied health professionals (AHPs), often with fulsome testimonials, and without a scrap of evidence. Sometimes, professionals themselves get caught up in these undeniably popular interventions and fail to adequately critique the 'evidence' behind such approaches.


The hype surrounding fads is persuasive, the advertising seductive, the lure of the quick fix often irresistible, and the endorsements and testimonials emotive and plausible – often playing to a parent’s insecurities, anxiety and guilt over their child’s predicament. Among those who are not quite convinced about the benefits, there are even those who purchase them on an it-might-work-and-it-can’t hurt basis. After all, what parent would not want to give their child every possible chance of success?


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