February 24, 2014

Submissions to the Australian Senate Inquiry

The Australian Senate has launched an inquiry into the prevalence of different types of speech, language and communication disorders and speech pathology services in Australia.

My colleagues and I uploaded seven submissions to the inquiry on the following topics

  • Prevalence of speech, language, and communication needs in Australia’s children
  • The prevalence of different types of speech, language and communication disorders in Australia from the Sound Start Project
  •  Speech pathology services to support Australian children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children: Incidence and prevalence of speech and language disorder
  • Evidence of the social cost of failing to treat communication disorders
  • The experiences of individuals with a history of childhood speech impairment
  • Applying the Recommendations of the World Report on Disability to the speech, language, and communication needs of Australia’s children
The submissions from over 200 people and groups are (gradually being) uploaded here. A Charles Sturt University media release about the submissions is here. Speech Pathology Australia's 118 page submission also references recent work we have undertaken as part of the ARC Future Fellowship and Discovery grants. We look forward to the next phase of this important inquiry. 

February 21, 2014

Launch of the International Communication Project

Across the world, the International Communication Project was launched today http://www.communication2014.com/

Speaking at the launch were representatives from Speech Pathology Australia, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, New Zealand Speech and Language Therapists Association, Irish Association of Speech Therapy, Royal College of Speech and Language Therapy, and the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology via a Google Hangout site https://plus.google.com/u/0/events/cscgp2st70qjse8kmd2omljo92c

Suzanne Hopf's work in Fiji has been highlighted on the site http://www.communication2014.com/profile/suzanne-c-hopf/ Congratulations Suzanne.

Here is Speech Pathology Australia's site about this project http://www.speechpathologyaustralia.org.au/spa-news-a-events/icp2014

Speech, sign, or multilingualism for children with hearing loss: Quantitative insights into caregivers’ decision-making

The following manuscript has been accepted for publication
Crowe, K., McLeod, S., McKinnon, D. H., & Ching, T. Y. C. (in press, February 2014). Speech, sign, or multilingualism for children with hearing loss: Quantitative insights into caregivers’ decision-making. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools.
Here is the abstract
Purpose: To investigate the influence of a comprehensive range of factors on the decision-making of caregivers of children with hearing loss regarding the use of speech, the use of sign, spoken language multilingualism, and spoken language choice. This is a companion paper to the qualitative investigation described in Crowe, Fordham, McLeod and Ching (in press).
Method: Through a questionnaire, 177 caregivers of 157 Australian children with hearing loss (ages 3;5 to 9;4, mean age 6;6) rated the importance of a range of potential influences on their decision-making about their children’s communication. The majority of children were reported to use speech (96.6%) as part or all of their communication system, with less reported to use sign (20.9%). Few children used more than one spoken language (8.3%).
Results: Proportional analyses and exploratory factor analyses were conducted. Overall, caregivers’ decisions were influenced by their children’s future lives, audiological and intervention characteristics, communication with those around them, community participation, access to intervention and education services in English, and concerns about their children’s future lives. Advice of speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and specialist teachers was more important to caregivers than advice from medical practitioners and non-professionals.
Conclusion: Caregivers’ decision-making about communication mode and language use is influenced by factors that are not equally weighted, and relate to child, family, community, and advice from others. Knowledge of these factors can assist professionals in supporting caregivers making choices regarding communication.

February 19, 2014

Dentistry lecture

Today I traveled to Orange to present a 2 hour lecture to the year 5 dentistry students at Charles Sturt University. We talked about oral structure and function to produce speech (including tasks for them to identify tongue/palate placement for the production of consonants), and also typical developmental milestones and indicators of referral to speech pathology when considering children's speech, language, communication, and swallowing.

February 18, 2014

September 2013 - February 2014 SUMMARY

‘Speaking my language: International speech acquisition in Australia’

Written by Kim Woodland, Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education for the RIPPLE Update

We now entering our final year of reporting on Sharynne McLeod’s productive and busy ARC Future Fellowship on international speech acquisition in Australia. Sharynne’s blog, Speaking my languages, continues to track her progress so please check in for regular updates.

As Sharynne said in a summary post in December: “The most important test of this work is the difference this makes in the lives of children with speech and language difficulties”. The importance of the work was also reiterated by an international reviewer of one of Sharynne’s papers: “To my mind, two of the most important tasks for the profession of speech-language in this century are the development of assessments for use with multilingual children and children whose first language is not English and fostering clinician’s awareness of them”.

In mid-November 2013, Sharynne, Sarah Verdon and Kate Crowe attended the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention in Chicago, along with 15,000 other delegates, the largest ASHA Convention on record. While at the convention, Sharynne presented 6.5 hours of technical reports and seminars including a 3-hour short course, along with co-presenting papers with Sarah and Kate. Many of the international researchers Sharynne works with and who she has written about on her blog also attended, providing an excellent opportunity to meet and collaborate. 

Sharynne and her team continue to work on this goal and the impact of their work is making a positive and growing difference in the lives of children with speech difficulties and their families. The Multilingual Children’s Speech website which was created as part of the Fellowship had received over 20,000 visits by the end of November 2013 from many countries. New information and resources continue to be added.

A major focus for Sharynne and her team in 2014 is the ARC Sound Start project, which commenced last year. The project is in the data collection phase and by the time the intervention (an innovative program to promote speech and pre-literacy skills in at-risk preschoolers) is over, the participating children will have been assessed twice to determine the outcome of the speech intervention. More children will be included in the project in 2014 and 2015.

After ten years, Sharynne also concludes her position as editor of the International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, handing over to A/Prof Kirrie Ballard, another ARC Future Fellowship holder.

We look forward to following Sharynne’s work again in 2014.

February 17, 2014

Undertaking and writing research that is important, targeted, and the best you can do

Three recent events over the past week that made me reflect on writing and undertaking research. 
  1. I have written my final editorial as editor of the International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology (IJSLP),
  2. I was invited to open the School of Teacher Education Research Writing Retreat with "inspirational words"
  3. I was invited to speak at the Early Years Education Collaborative Research Network meeting in Melbourne on the topic of "Improving your academic writing - both journal article and thesis writing"
The convergence of these three events inspired me to talk and write about "Undertaking and writing research that is important, targeted, and the best you can do"

McLeod, S. (2014). Editorial: Undertaking and writing research that is important, targeted and the best you can do. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 16(2), 95-97. 

 Here is the beginning of the editorial:
Conducting and writing research is a privilege. It is a privilege because researchers can change lives through their findings and can influence public knowledge and debate. It is also a privilege because researchers are reliant on the time and goodwill of participants (and colleagues), and research is often underpinned by funding raised by the public, either through taxes or philanthropic donations. This privilege comes with responsibility. Researchers have a responsibility to undertake research that is important, targeted, and of high quality. This editorial aims to inspire, challenge, and bolster the research efforts of individuals and teams.