Communication Disorders Ph.D. Dissertations


Addressing the Effects of Poverty on Early Language Development: A Feasibility Study for a Novel Parent Language Stimulation Program

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Communication Disorders/Speech-Language Pathology

First Advisor

Tim Brackenbury (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Lynne Hewitt (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Lauren Katz (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Mary Hare (Committee Member)


The purpose of this study was to investigate the feasibility of a novel parent language stimulation program for parents of toddlers living in low-income homes. This study was designed to address a gap in the research literature for interventions that target the unique needs of this population.

This pilot study used an abbreviated version of a multiple baseline design with an embedded pretest-posttest design. This method was used to detail outcomes from the intervention that may suggest further research potential with the proposed intervention. Additionally, a qualitative review of the feasibility of the intervention and methods was conducted to determine specific barriers and benefits to the intervention as proposed.

Previous research in child language development suggest that parent lexical diversity, parent responsivity to child communication attempts, parent promotion of language development in the home setting, and parent knowledge of child development are all negatively impacted by low-income status. Additionally, parents in low-income homes are more likely to demonstrate lower feelings of parenting self-efficacy and experience greater levels of parenting stress. In turn, these parent behaviors have been found to impact the types of learning experiences and communication that parents provide to young children throughout their day. The intervention program designed for this study, the Caregiver-Child Language Apprenticeship Program (CcLAP), was created to address these concerns.

Results indicate that parent knowledge of development and parent promotions of development in the home setting, showed some signs of a positive increase after exposure to the intervention, but no other changes were noted in the other parent behaviors measured. Issues of feasibility with the proposed design were significant, with recruitment and retention of low-income participants emerging as a central barrier to research with this population.

Limitations of the study and future directions for the language stimulation intervention program and related research with low-income families are discussed in light of the current results from this study.