Social Communication Intervention for Pre-schoolers (SCIP)

What is SCIP? 

Parents can be taught to help their children with autism develop skills in communication, interaction and play and this approach is recommended by evidence-based national clinical guidelines (NICE 2013). Drawing on the evidence for what works, the University of Reading Centre for Autism and Paediatric Speech and Language Therapy Service have developed a training programme for parents called the Social Communication Intervention for Pre-schoolers (SCIP).   

SCIP aims to help parents better understand their child's style of interaction and communication and to become more responsive to their child during play.  This supports the development of their child’s social communication and language.  An important feature of the training is the use of video feedback.  

SCIP is a free service run at set times within the University academic year. It is offered as part of the teaching clinic within the Paediatric Speech and Language Therapy Services and so there is always student involvement ranging from observation to taking responsibility for a small caseload.  Students work under the supervision of a qualified specialist speech and language therapist. 

Who is SCIP for? 

SCIP has been design for nursery-age children, from 2 to 5 years old.  SCIP can also be suitable for children in school who are in Reception.  Children attending SCIP will have a diagnosis of ASD or will be on a waiting list for an ASD assessment. It is appropriate for children who are not yet talking, through to children who are using phrase speech.  

What is involved in SCIP? 

The SCIP programme works through a series of topics teaching parents specific strategies to support their child’s social communication development.  It starts by focusing on sharing attention and play, moves on to responding to others and initiating interaction, and ends with developing communication and language.   

Parents attend 10 weekly sessions which last between 1-hour and 1-hour 30-minutes.  In each session, parents have the opportunity to practise strategies while playing with their child and the play will be videoed.  Video allows parents to see their interaction with their child and talk through with the therapist what they are doing that supports their child’s social communication and what to change to improve the support they are providing. Parents are also asked to practise the strategies they have been working on in the sessions at home. 

Please email autism@reading.ac.uk if you have any questions or are interested in attending the programme. 

Other intervention available for preschool children with autism 

We are currently running a clinical trial of a new music-assisted language intervention for children with a diagnosis of autism.  To take part children need to be 2-to-5 years of age and have little or no spoken language. The trial intervention involves two 45 minutes sessions a week for 18 weeks. Sessions are delivered online using a video-conferencing platform.  Please email f.liu@reading.ac.uk if you are interested in joining the study.