September 12, 2013

Applying the World Report on Disability to children’s communication

The following manuscript has just been published online

McLeod, S., McAllister, L., McCormack, J., & Harrison, L. J. (2013, in press). Applying the World Report on Disability to children’s communication. Disability and Rehabilitation, doi:10.3109/09638288.2013.833305

Here is the abstract:
Purpose: The World Report on Disability is an important milestone in the recognition of people with disabilities; however, the Report acknowledges that people with communication difficulties may be underrepresented in estimates of disability. Consequently, this article applies the nine recommendations from the World Report on Disability to supporting children’s communication skills. Method: Australia is similar to most Minority World countries since it places high regard on articulate and literate communication. Recent large-scale Australian studies of children with speech, language and communication needs were reviewed to determine prevalence, impact and associated environmental and personal factors. Studies of met and unmet need were reviewed and discussed in relation to legislation and policies. Results: Recent years have seen improvements in the collection of and access to disability data about children’s communication, including the involvement of children in research about the impact of communication difficulties on their lives. The prevalence of speech and language impairment in children is high and is associated with poorer educational and social outcomes at school-age. Significant unmet need for services was noted, and there were differences in health, education and disability policies regarding access to services. Conclusions: Updated legislation, policies and practices are needed to more effectively support access to services to support children’s communication across health, education and disability sectors.
Implications for Rehabilitation
  • There is a high prevalence of speech and language impairment in Australian children.
  • Childhood speech and language impairment (and associated communication disability) can impact educational, social, behavioural and occupational outcomes throughout life.
  • Many Australian children do not have sufficient access to targeted services (including speech-language pathology) to ameliorate the impact of their communication disability.
  • Formulation of a national strategy to support children children’s communication is required.
Keywords: Communication, disability, ICF, ICF-CY, language, speech, World Health Organization, World Report on Disability

Figure 1. Drawings created by 4- to 5-year-old children with speech impairment in response to being asked to draw themselves talking to someone. These examples are of drawings that accentuated the listener’s ears, and many of these examples also demonstrate the listener or speaker leaning towards the other, possibly to facilitate understanding of the spoken message. Copyright 2012 by S. McLeod, L. McAllister, J. McCormack and L. J. Harrison. Reprinted with permission.