Child Communication Research and Practice: Collaborative Roles for Behavior Analysts and Speech-Language Pathologists

Justin D. Lane, Jennifer A. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Young children's social communication is key to their development and well-being. Naturalistic interventions can promote social communication in young children. Anyone concerned about children's social communication—families, professionals, planning teams, referral sources, funders, and policymakers—should understand the complementary roles of behavior analysts (BCBAs) and speech-language pathologists (SLPs), who both utilize naturalistic interventions. Resistance to collaboration may be rooted in broader conversations about differing theories of language development. BCBAs and SLPs likely have similar overarching goals and expectations, but collaboration has been unfortunately rare, due to field-specific training and recommendations. BCBAs and SLPs who adopt a unified theory of practice will place children, families, and educators at the center of all decisions. An interdisciplinary model rooted in research about naturalistic interventions, collaboration, and equitable practices that incorporates feedback from providers and researchers in each field, could address challenges. This model highlights (a) understanding key tenets from each respective field, (b) developing interdisciplinary teams, (c) measuring and evaluating collaborative planning, and (d) promoting mutual respect and equity. Children benefit when professionals collaborate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-112
Number of pages9
JournalPolicy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • behavior analysts
  • collaboration
  • communication
  • naturalistic instruction
  • speech-language pathologists

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Administration


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