Social Communication Intervention Programme Research (SCIP)

Speech and language therapy intervention research by the University of Manchester

Social communication skills matter. In friendship, in school, and in society.

Our research is refining a speech and language therapy intervention that will improve the communication skills of children with Social Communication Disorder (SCD). This has the potential to make a profound difference to the quality of their lives.

What is the Social Communication Intervention Programme?

The Social Communication Intervention Programme (SCIP) is a speech and language therapy programme for children who have social communication disorder (SCD).

A team of researchers led by Dr Catherine Adams have developed the SCIP intervention through a series of research studies. The research has defined the content of the intervention and tested its effectiveness.

Testing the programme

In a randomised controlled trial, SCIP was delivered by a team of research speech and language therapists (SLT) and specially trained therapy assistants to children aged 6-11 years old in their mainstream primary schools.

The programme worked: results showed that SCIP brought about greater changes in the children’s social communication and conversation skills when compared to the children in the control group who received treatment as usual.

Training SLTs to deliver SCIP

The most recent SCIP research provided training and supervision to speech and language therapists, who are not researchers, to deliver SCIP to children with social communication disorder.

Making it work for you

We have developed a new way to measure changes in communication skills that are meaningful to families.

We have also undertaken a survey to find out what SLT services children with language, pragmatic and social communication disorders are receiving.

Keep informed

If you are a parent, teacher or young person with SCD and you want to stay up to date with SCIP research then email Dr Catherine Adams using the link below.

Experienced in SCD research

The University of Manchester has a proud history of developing intervention programmes for children with social communication problems.

Dr Catherine Adams has conducted research in this area of speech and language therapy for over 25 years, helping numerous families along the way.

Further Reading about SCIP research

Children who have Social Communication Disorder


Background to SCIP


The SCIP intervention


SCIP Lay Summary 

For parents: SCIP intervention aims and background

For SLTs: The positive benefits of participating in the project

More information

What is social communication disorder (SCD)?

Children with SCD find it hard to understand and use language, especially in social situations; this can sometimes be called ‘Pragmatic Language Impairment’. They may show some mild features of autism.

This can affect how well they learn at school, their friendships and emotional/mental health as they grow up.

This can have a big impact on families and is expensive for the NHS and social services.

An effective communication intervention may be able to prevent some of these problems – but there is currently insufficient research to support this. That is where our study research comes in.

What is SCIP intervention?

Our previous work developed a new speech and language therapy intervention called the Social Communication Intervention Programme (SCIP).

This intervention was given in schools, and parents and teachers felt it led to improvements in social communication, conversation skills and classroom learning skills.

More information about the SCIP intervention

How can Speech and Language Therapists get involved in SCIP research?

We have just completed a feasibility study funded by the National Institute for Health Research’s ‘Research for Patient Benefit’ scheme.

This means we are now in a position to design a large scale research study to further test the effectiveness of SCIP when delivered by SLTs who are not researchers.

If you would like to be kept informed of our research please email

How are we involving children and their families?

We know that working closely with families and children helps us to design research that is meaningful and effective for children with SCD. We have a small group of parents and young people who have supported us over the years to develop study documents and advise us on many aspects of research design and delivery. These include:

  • providing questions for the survey of SLT practice;
  • describing what parents of children need to know prior to giving consent to take part;
  • engaging schools in SCIP; training SLTs in SCIP;
  • refining the SCIP-GAS outcome measure;
  • co-writing research reports and guiding how and where we share results.

If you or your child would like to be involved in our future research please email

Information for SLTs

Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) are central to SCIP research and by participating you will help test a cutting-edge approach that could have a transformative effect on children with SCD.

What is it like to take part in SCIP research?

Fifteen SLTs participated in the SCIP2 feasibility study and reported that while it was challenging they had benefitted in many ways. Each SLT participant received training and supervision in delivering SCIP to at least one child on their caseload and completed a reflective diary during the study. Supervision was highly valued by all participants, considered essential and contributed to changes in clinical reasoning and practice.

Changes in clinical reasoning were linked to the SCIP theoretical framework, something which was seen as key to developing a different understanding of the needs of children with SCD. One therapist said, “I now understand the child’s difficulties with more sophistication”; another ‘I can see how complex social situations are now and how much language is needed to understand what is happening and how to behave.”

Therapists also reflected on their role with parents and reported that they wanted to involve parents actively in therapy by inviting them to observe or by having sessions at home.

Case reports from the SCIP2 feasibility study

Therapists who took part in the feasibility study were invited to write a case report.

Here you can read how SCIP helped John learn how to discuss situations he had previously found difficult to talk about, and how he began to feel more secure and confident with a trusted adult.

Case report


In a companion piece, his SLT reflects on using SCIP with John and how she was able to guide him to understand complex situations and come up with his own solutions to problems.

Interview with his speech and language therapist

Discover more about the new approach to help children with SCD, with the SCIP summaries of previous studies here.

RCT summary


SCIP2 summary


If you want to be kept informed of SCIP research, then email Dr Catherine Adams using the link below.

The SCIP intervention framework

Delivering the SCIP intervention


Catherine and ‌Jacqueline are two key members of the SCIP research team.

For any enquiries, please email:

Dr Catherine AdamsCatherine Adams

Principal Investigator for SCIP research
View research profile


Jacqueline GaileJacqueline Gaile

SCIP training and supervisor