October 22, 2010

Infants' Lives in Childcare

Over the past 2 days the research team from the Infants' Lives in Childcare Project (funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant 2008-2011) met to discuss the data collected so far, to plan publications and the final stage of the project. It was a productive time and great to work with the team who are located in different sites throughout New South Wales. We are using a mosaic approach to analyse data from a range of sources and perspectives including: babycam, video, photographs from older children, MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories, time use diaries and temperament questionnaires.

Infants' Lives in Childcare team:
L-R Linda Harrison, Tina Stratigos, Sheena Elwick, Sharynne,
Fran Press, Ben Bradley, Joy Goodfellow

October 7, 2010

Perspectives on Global Issues in Communication Sciences and Related Disorders

I have been invited to be an inaugural editorial board member of Perspectives on Global Issues in Communication Sciences and Related Disorders. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association have created a new special interest division called Global Issues in Communication Sciences and Related Disorders, and this journal is part of the membership benefits after joining the special interest division.
Sharynne and Prof. Dolores Battle

"It is the mission of the Division on Global Issues in Communication Sciences and Related Disorders to provide international leadership related to audiology and speech-language pathology services by promoting research, networking, collaboration, education, and mentoring for its affiliates, students, and other service providers in the global marketplace."

October 4, 2010

The extent and experience of living with childhood speech impairment

On Friday 1st October, Jane McCormack submitted her PhD titled "The extent and experience of living with childhood speech impairment" Congratulations Jane! It has been a pleasure supervising her PhD along with Lindy McAllister and Linda Harrison. Her PhD comprises 9 journal articles that have been published, or submitted to national and international journals. She was awarded the prestigous Sir Robert Menzies Memorial Research Scholarship in the Allied Health Sciences to complete her studies.

Jane McCormack receiving the Menzies Foundation Allied Health Scholarship

Her abstract is as follows:
"Communication impairment is a high prevalence condition in preschool children, and speech impairment (also called articulation/phonological/speech sound disorder) is one of the most common forms of communication impairment among this age group. Early intervention is recommended for children with speech impairment due to growing awareness of the potential long-term consequences of unresolved speech impairment (e.g., poorer school achievement, unemployment).
Intervention for speech impairment has traditionally focused on correcting children’s production of sounds/words, which may not address the full impact of speech impairment on a child’s life, or the priorities of the child and family. In recent years there has been a shift to consider health (including communication) in a more holistic manner, with the development of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF; World Health Organization (WHO), 2001) and the ICF-Children and Youth version (ICF-CY; WHO, 2007). There has also been a shift to incorporate the views of clients (children and adults) in health intervention. In particular, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC; UNICEF, 1989) stipulated the rights of children to express their views in all matters affecting them. Both the ICF-CY and the UNCROC have been recommended by speech-language pathology professional associations as important considerations to guide speech-language pathology research and practice.

To date, no studies have investigated the views of individuals with speech impairment regarding their experience of the impairment and the association between the impairment and limitations to life activities. The research undertaken through this doctoral research aimed to develop an understanding of childhood speech impairment as perceived by those who experience speech impairment and their communication partners. Specifically, the research aimed to fulfil two objectives: 1) to investigate the link between childhood speech impairment and limitations to life activities, and 2) to describe the experience of living with childhood speech impairment. In order to fulfil these objectives, a series of reviews and research studies were conducted, the results of which have been published (or submitted for publication) in Australia and internationally.
This doctoral research contains nine papers which present the reviews and research studies. The three review papers provide information about: (1) the prevalence of communication impairment in Australian children, (2) the theoretical framework used to guide the research (the ICF and ICF-CY), and (3) the application of the ICF-CY to children with speech impairment. The six subsequent research papers have unique aims and methodologies; however, all use the ICF and ICF-CY as a theoretical lens to provide an overarching perspective.
The first three research papers investigate the link between speech impairment and limitations to life activities: (1) a systematic review of 57 research studies, (2) analysis of parents’ (n=86) and SLPs’ (n=205) responses to questionnaires about the impact of speech impairment on life activities and participation, and (3) analysis of child, parent and teacher reports gathered (and made available to the researcher) in the nationally representative Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (n=4,329). In these three research studies, activities limited by speech impairment extend beyond communication-based activities, and include interpersonal interactions (e.g., relating to persons in authority, informal relationships with friends/peers, parent-child relationships, sibling relationships), learning activities (reading, writing, attention and thinking, calculating), and handling stress and other psychosocial demands. Furthermore, the difficulties associated with childhood speech impairment extend beyond early childhood into the school years and later.
The experience of living with childhood speech impairment is investigated through three additional research studies: (1) a meaning-making analysis of children’s drawings (n=13), (2) a phenomenological analysis of interviews conducted with preschool children (n=13) and their families (n=21), and (3) a phenomenological analysis of two young adults with a history of childhood speech impairment and their mothers. Again, difficulty with speech is not the only difficulty identified, nor is it always the priority for intervention. Children and their families recognise difficulties with communication relate to the speech skills of the child, but also to the ability of communication partners to understand the child’s message, and frustration resulting from communication breakdowns. Individuals with speech impairment and their mothers reveal the difficulties associated with speech impairment continue throughout the lifespan, affecting social interactions, academic skills, and career progression for individuals and causing distress, isolation or guilt for parents.
This doctoral research expands current understanding of the extent and experience of childhood speech impairment across the lifespan, and reveals the unique and valuable insights about speech impairment that children and their families provide. As a series of papers, this research forms a body of evidence that could be drawn upon by policy-makers, speech-language pathologists, and educators to provide direction for timely and holistic intervention services for individuals with speech impairment and their families."

Research and higher degree students

One of the priviledges of my job is working with my research and higher degree students.
Last week:
  • Jane McCormack submitted her PhD (see next post).
    Kate working on her PhD
  • Kate Crowe worked in Bathurst and developed her PhD research methodology to examine professionals' and parents' decision-making regarding whether children with hearing loss choose to sign, or speak, and if they do speak, do they speak one or more languages.
  • Jacqui Barr worked on her PhD analysing interview data collected from children who are siblings of children with disabilities.
  • Karla Washington finished her postdoctoral fellowship and is writing up her research. Last week we were working on a paper about parents' perspectives of speech and language intervention