- "Interventions such as an appropriate wheelchair, speech and language therapy can make the difference between being included, and being left on the margins." (Shakespeare & Officer, 2014, p. 1487)
- "the editors of this special issue fervently hope that these papers contribute to promoting these shared understandings and partnership working, so that the lives of people with disabilities will be improved." (p. 1488)
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.
Muller, D. (2014). Announcing the upcoming publication of a virtual special issue of Disability and Rehabilitation. Disability and Rehabilitation, 36(18), 1486-1486. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2014.960655
Shakespeare, T., & Officer, A. (2014). Breaking the barriers, filling the gaps. Disability and Rehabilitation, 36(18), 1487-1488. doi:10.3109/09638288.2013.878552