The Early Sociocognitive Battery training day – City, University of London

I attended the ESB training day in London at City, University of London last week. This was one of the first training sessions for the new ESB test, run by two of the authors, Penny Roy and Jenn Warwick from the Department of Language and Communication Science, at City, University of London.

There were 9 trainees in total, 8 were speech and language therapists and one a paediatrician, working in a wide range of settings and in early years teams and schools. Penny opened the day by saying what a great partnership the author team and Hogrefe Ltd have had during the development of the ESB for publication. Jenn, also a speech and language therapist, was keen to find out from the group what the ESB can contribute to clinical practice.

Some talked about changing services in early years work, with different practitioners seeing children, and the need therefore for consistency and non-subjective judgement of their behaviour and abilities. There is also, they said, a need to be able to use evidence to inform intervention and referral and having something concrete to talk to parents about to address their concerns. The group concluded that the ESB provides a useful framework and fills a gap in current testing by focusing on a direct measure and (not observed play for instance) and offering insights into key areas of social communication and language development.

During the day Penny and Jenn took the participants through the theory behind the ESB and the substantial work that has gone into the standardisation and validation of the test in the past few years. The group then watched videos of the ESB being administered to various young participants which really highlighted how easy the ESB is to administer and how engaging it is for children. The group had a go at scoring the test to the videos with the trainers explaining the reasoning behind the judgments.

After a break for lunch, it was time for the group to try out administering the ESB test themselves, with the trainers on hand to provide practical advice and tips. The ESB kit is made up of brightly coloured objects and toys, in a series of colour-coded bags, with clear instructions for set-up, and packed in a white wheelie case. There are three short subtests which assess Social Responsiveness, Joint Attention and Symbolic Understanding. The whole test takes no more than 15 minutes to go through but, as the group found on their first attempts, it is important to know the kit inside and out, and practice makes perfect!

By 4pm the training day was coming to a close, with Penny and Jenn answering any remaining questions the group had. It had been a really good day with a very engaged group of people and it was great for me to see how well the ESB was received and how it can provide such a good fit to what these professionals are exploring in their work.

City, University of London will be running further training sessions throughout the year to support those wanting to find out more about how the ESB can be used in practice. Please visit their website to find out more. You can read more about the ESB assessment here.