'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


What readers are saying about 'Making Sense of Interventions'

Alison Clarke, Speech Pathologist: Entelechy Therapy, Clifton Hill, Victoria
"This book should be made available to parents of children with developmental disorders via public libraries, as it has the potential to save them a lot of grief, time and money finding effective interventions, and avoiding ineffective ones.It would also be a valuable addition to paediatric and allied health professional libraries, and to the libraries of schools educating children with developmental disorders, which means most schools..."

Greg Ashman, Science teacher and PhD candidate, Ballarat, Victoria
"...an invaluable resource for teachers and parents...witty and erudite."
READ GREG'S COMMENTS HERE (book number 4) - a complete review is coming up shortly

Mark Johnson: Teacher, and parent of a young man on the autism spectrum
"As a parent of a child with ASD, and as part of a family who works and has contact with children with disabilities on a regular basis, we are at the mercy of many a charlatan or well meaning group or individual who believe they have the answers. More often than not they don’t. If you are a parent or professional who is using a practice that is listed in the book as lacking evidence, this book is not an attempt to mock or belittle you choices. Rather a rational attempt to expose you to where the practice sits in terms of its efficacy to date. I endorse the point the authors make that those parents or professionals, who may support an intervention with little evidence, do not need to be belittled or made to feel gullible."

Associate Professor Jennifer Stephenson: Macquarie University Special Education Centre
"I found the book easy to read with information presented in digestible chunks with clear headings. As one would expect with a book dedicated to promoting evidence-based interventions, the conclusions are drawn from quality research, and the reference list is a resource in itself. Overall it provides a guide to becoming a critical consumer of the information presented to support interventions, of research, and of services delivering interventions."

Emeritus Professor Kevin Wheldall: "Crap detecting for beginners"
"There is so much to delight and intrigue in this book. So much crap to detect and so little time. Let me finish by saying this: “Buy this book.” In fact, buy two copies and give one to a friend. They’ll thank you for it."

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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