January 31, 2017

Communication disability in Fiji: Community cultural beliefs and attitudes

The following manuscript has just been accepted for publication:
Hopf, S. C., McLeod, S., McDonagh, S., & Rakanace, E. (2017, in press). Communication disability in Fiji: Community cultural beliefs and attitudes. Disability, CBR and Inclusive Development.
Here is the abstract:
Aim: Beliefs about communication disability vary according to cultural context and influence people’s attitudes and help-seeking behaviour. Little is known about Fijians with communication disability or the communities in which they live. Fijian specialist services for people with communication disability are yet to be established. Understanding Fijian beliefs about the causes of communication disability and people’s attitudes to people with communication disability may inform future service development.
Methods: An interpretivist qualitative research paradigm and the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) framework informed this project’s design. Scenarios of adults and children with communication disability were presented to 144 participants, randomly sampled across multiple public spaces in two Fiji cities. Thematic analysis of responses to 15 survey questions revealed participant beliefs about the cause and attitudes towards people with communication disability.
Results: Three clusters describing perceived causes emerged from the analysis: internal, external, and supernatural. Major clusters across child and adult scenarios were similar; however, response categories within the scenarios differed. Community attitudes to people with communication disability were predominantly negative. These community attitudes influenced individual participants’ beliefs about educational and employment opportunities for Fijians with communication disability.
Conclusion: Determination and acknowledgement of individuals’ belief systems informs development of culturally appropriate intervention programs and health promotion activities.

January 30, 2017

Speech sound disorders in preschool children: Correspondence between clinical diagnosis and teacher and parent report

The following manuscript has been accepted for publication
Harrison, L. J., McLeod, S., McAllister, L. & McCormack, J. (2017, in press). Speech sound disorders in preschool children: Correspondence between clinical diagnosis and teacher and parent report. Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties.
It can be downloaded from here: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/iPDGd535UzszBgMVkcaT/full 
Here is the abstract:
This study sought to assess the level of correspondence between parent and teacher report of concern about young children’s speech and specialist assessment of speech sound disorders (SSD). A sample of 157 children aged 4 to 5 years was recruited in preschools and long day care centres in Victoria and New South Wales (NSW). SSD was assessed independently by: (1) clinical diagnosis by a speech-language pathologist (SLP) using the Diagnostic Evaluation of Articulation and Phonology (DEAP); (2) parent-reported concern using the Parent Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS); (3) teacher-reported concern using the PEDS. Agreement between parent identification of SSD and clinical assessment was high (86 to 90%). Agreement between teacher identification and clinical assessment was lower, and varied by state (Victoria 80%; NSW 63%). Differences in the accuracy of early childhood teachers’ identification of SSD are considered in relation to early childhood policies regarding the provision of speech-language pathology services in preschool settings.

January 23, 2017

Profile of Australian preschool children with speech sound disorders at risk for literacy difficulties

The following manuscript from the Sound Start Study has been accepted for publication.
McLeod, S., Crowe, K., Masso, S., Baker, E., McCormack, J., Wren, Y., Roulstone, S., & Howland, C. (2017, in press). Profile of Australian preschoolers with speech sound disorders at risk for literacy difficulties. Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties.
Free downloads are available here: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/nG6yIncSNjw93ivSJ6ea/full 
Here is the abstract
Background: Speech sound disorders are a common communication difficulty in preschool children. Teachers indicate difficulty identifying and supporting these children.
Aim: To describe speech and language characteristics of children identified by their parents and/or teachers as having possible communication concerns.
Method: 275 Australian 4- to 5-year-old children from 45 preschools whose parents and teachers were concerned about their talking participated in speech-language pathology assessments to examine speech, language, literacy, non-verbal intelligence, oromotor skills and hearing.
Results: The majority (71.3%) of children demonstrated lower consonant accuracy than expected for their age, 63.9% did not pass the language-screening task, 65.5% had not been assessed and 72.4% had not received intervention from a speech-language pathologist. The 132 children who were identified with speech sound disorder (phonological impairment) were more likely to be male (62.9%) who were unintelligible to unfamiliar listeners, and had poor emergent literacy and phonological processing skills, despite having typical hearing, oral structures, and intelligence.
Conclusion: Children identified by parents and teachers with concerns may have a range of speech, language and communication needs requiring professional support.

January 22, 2017

Intelligibility in Context Scale research

Over the past few years validation and norming research has been undertaken for the Intelligibility in Context Scale. Here is some of the published work (not including the theses):
  • Hopf, S. C., McLeod, S. & McDonagh, S. (2016, in press). Validation of the Intelligibility in Context Scale for school students in Fiji. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics. http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/nQPvhBmVCa9MCaZ7nvUj/full
  • Kim, J.-H., Ballard, E., & McCann, C. M. (2016). Parent-rated measures of bilingual children's speech accuracy: Implications for a universal speech screen. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 18(2), 202-211. doi: 10.3109/17549507.2015.1081284 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/17549507.2015.1081284?src=recsys
  • Kogovšek, D., & Ozbič, M. (2013). Lestvica razumljivosti govora v vsakdanjem življenju: slovenščina. Komunikacija, 2(3), 28-34. 
  •  McLeod, S., Crowe, K., & Shahaeian, A. (2015). Intelligibility in Context Scale: Normative and validation data for English-speaking preschoolers. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 46(3), 266-276. doi: 10.1044/2015_LSHSS-14-0120 
  • McLeod, S. (2015). Intelligibility in Context Scale: A parent-report screening tool translated into 60 languages. Journal of Clinical Practice in Speech-Language Pathology, 17(1), 7-12. 
  • McLeod, S., Harrison, L. J., & McCormack, J. (2012). Intelligibility in Context Scale: Validity and reliability of a subjective rating measure. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 55(2), 648-656. doi: 10.1044/1092-4388(2011/10-0130) 
  •  Neumann, S., Rietz, C., & Stenneken, P. (2016, in press). The German Intelligibility in Context Scale (ICS-G): Reliability and validity evidence. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1111/1460-6984.12303/abstract
  • Ng, K., To, C. K. S. McLeod, S., (2014). Validation of the Intelligibility in Context Scale as a screening tool for preschoolers in Hong Kong. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 28(5), 316-328. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.3109/02699206.2013.865789
  • Pascoe, M. & McLeod, S. (2016). Cross-cultural adaptation of the Intelligibility in Context Scale for South Africa. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 32(3), 327-343. doi:10.1177/0265659016638395 
  • Phạm, B, McLeod, S. & Harrison, L. J. (2016). Validation and norming of the Intelligibility in Context Scale in Northern Viet Nam. Manuscript in submission. 
  • Tomić, D. & Mildner, V. (2014, June). Validation of Croatian Intelligibility in Context Scale. Poster presented at International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association Symposium, Stockholm, Sweden. 
  • Washington, K. N., McDonald, M. M., McLeod, S., Crowe, K., Devonish, H. (2016, in press). Validation of the Intelligibility in Context Scale for Jamaican Creole-speaking preschoolers. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. 

A paper that discusses intelligibility and include the ICS
  • Miller, N. (2013). Measuring up to speech intelligibility. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 48(6), 601-612. doi: 10.1111/1460-6984.12061

January 21, 2017

Busy January

It is summertime in Australia, so my students and I have been on holidays. Even though we have only been back on deck for a short while we have submitted revisions to journal articles, invited encyclopedia entries, abstracts for conferences, and are working on a grant submission. Ben has been teaching in the speech pathology program at Pham Ngoc Thach University in Ho Chi Minh City. Kate has been working hard in the US on her Fulbright fellowship in the snow. We are a busy and productive group. I am looking forward to taking a little more leave in February before getting back to work in March.
Summer in Australia
Winter in the US - where Kate Crowe is on her Fulbright fellowship

January 9, 2017

Suzanne Churcher's Churchill Trust Report has been published

In August 2016, Suzanne Churcher visited my colleagues and I at Charles Sturt University as part of her Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship. Her project was titled "Early intervention for speech disorder not just desirable but essential". Details of her visit are here.
Her report from the visit has just been published here: http://www.wcmt.org.uk/users/suzannechurcher2016. Here is a quote from page 9 of the report
  • There was ubiquitous agreement that the age of the child was not a primary factor in the clinical decision making process, with regard to exclusion of target of intervention. 
  • Like the UK, Australia sometimes has to respond to resource demands and pressures but this is not due to evidence of ineffectiveness in this age group. 
  • There is evidence that both Australia and the UK respond to need using approaches that may have similar theoretical underpinning. This needs further investigation and research. 
  • Australia is using a wider range of evidence based interventions with children of all ages than both my experience and the current research would suggest. 
  • SLPs in Australia reported regular easier access to research. They have three professional publications; SpeakOUT, the Journal of Clinical Practice in Speech-Language Pathology (JCPSLP) and the International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology (IJSLP) and online access to full articles. 
  • It is vital that we ensure that service development does not exclude children from intervention based on a lack of empirical data. 
  • Intervention for speech in the preschool population requires continued development of an evidence base. 
  • We must continue to strengthen our more systematic approach to the assessment and intervention of children with SLCN (speech, language and communication needs). 
  • The profession as a whole will benefit from international collaboration and the development of EBP (evidence-based practice) across the age ranges and, on occasion, disciplines. 
  • Increased collaboration between universities and practicing clinicians is highly recommended.

January 5, 2017

First publication for 2017

Congratulations to Suzanne Hopf on our first publication of the year:
Hopf, S. C., McLeod, S., & McDonagh, S. H. (2017). Fiji school children’s multilingual language choices when talking with friends. In M. Theobald (Ed.). Friendship and peer culture in multilingual settings. Sociological studies of children and youth (Vol. 22) (pp. 55-88). Bingley, UK: Emerald.
It can be downloaded here: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/S1537-466120160000021005
Here is the abstract
Fiji is a multicultural and linguistically multi-competent country. Historical ethnic divisions have socialised students into language friendships based around common languages. Recent changes to educational policy, specifically the mandating of students learning all three of the Standard languages of Fiji (Fijian, Hindi, and English), have been introduced in hope that cross-linguistic understanding will encourage a greater sense of national identity amongst all Fijians regardless of ethnicity. This study explores one multilingual school environment considering students’ language use, attitudes and friendships in light of these policies.

A convergent mixed-methods research design using surveying, artefact collection, students’ drawing and observation was employed.

The majority of students reported some proficiency in the language of their inter-ethnic peers; however, students’ inter-ethnic friendships predominantly relied on English language use. It was observed that most friendships amongst these Fijian primary school students were still established according to main language use at home; however, inter-ethnic peer interaction in English was observed to be friendly and respectful. These language use patterns and friendship behaviours were potentially reinforced by individual and societal multilingualism, in addition to the school environment.

The chapter presents the first research linking Fijian primary school students’ language choices and friendship development.