Movement cognition and narration of the emotions treatment versus standard speech therapy in the treatment of children with borderline intellectual functioning: A randomized controlled trial

V. Blasi, G. Baglio, F. Baglio, M. P. Canevini, M. Zanette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Borderline intellectual functioning (BIF) is defined as a "health meta-condition... characterized by various cognitive dysfunctions associated with an intellectual quotient (IQ) between 71 and 85 which determines a deficit in the individual's functioning both in the restriction of activities and in the limitation of social participation". It can be caused by many factors, including a disadvantaged background and prematurity. BIF affects 7-12% of primary school children that show academic difficulties due to poor executive functioning. In many children with BIF, language, movement and social abilities are also affected, making it difficult to take part in daily activities. Dropping out of school and psychological afflictions such as anxiety and depression are common in children with BIF. This study investigates whether an intensive rehabilitation program that involves all of the areas affected in children with BIF (Movement, Cognition and Narration of emotions, MCNT) is more effective than Standard Speech Therapy (SST). Methods: This is a multicenter interventional single blind randomized controlled study. Children aged between 6 to 11years who attend a mainstream primary school and have multiple learning difficulties, behavioral problems and an IQ ranging between 85 to 70 have been enrolled. Participants are randomly allocated to one of three groups. The first group receives individual treatment with SST for 45min, twice a week for 9months. The second group receives the experimental treatment MCNT for 3h per day, 5days/ week for 9months and children work in small groups. The third group consists of children on a waiting list for the SST for nine months. Discussion: BIF is a very frequent condition with no ad hoc treatment. Over the long term, there is a high risk to develop psychiatric disorders in adulthood. Due to its high social impact, we consider it very important to intervene during childhood so as to intercept the remarkable plasticity of the developing brain. Trial registration: "Study Let them grow: A new intensive and multimodal Treatment for children with borderline intellectual functioning based on Movement, Cognition and Narration of emotions", retrospectively registered in ISRCTN Register with ISRCTN81710297 at 2017-01-09.

Original languageEnglish
Article number146
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 20 2017



  • Borderline intellectual functioning
  • Cognition
  • Development
  • Movement
  • Narration of emotions
  • Rehabilitation
  • Speech therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this