February 29, 2020

Contribution to the World Health Organization's Rehabilitation Competency Framework

I have just received a certificate and acknowledgment from the World Health Organization for my contribution to the Delphi study of the Rehabilitation Competency Framework. It did take many hours to complete the reviews, but there were many places where I could use my knowledge of communication disability and the speech-language pathology profession to inform the development of this framework.

Here are some posts about my contribution: 

February 26, 2020

Evaluating Children with Speech Sound Disorders in U.S. Public Schools

I am privileged to be collaborating with an international team to be writing a paper titled "Evaluating Children with Speech Sound Disorders in U.S. Public Schools: Considering Federal and State Laws, Guidance, and Research". The team members are Marie Ireland (Vice President SLP American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; Virginia Department of Education), Kelly Farquharson (Florida State University) and Kathryn Crowe (Charles Sturt University, Australia; University of Iceland, Iceland). This morning/last night depending on the time zone we had what we think will be the last online meeting before submission of our paper for peer review. As usual, the meeting was very productive and collaborative. The international conversations and clarifications have been valuable in making implicit assumptions and knowledge explicit.

Kelly (US), Sharynne (Australia), Marie (US), Kate (Poland)

Early Childhood Research Group Workshop

Over the next 2 days Dr Tamara Cumming and I are hosting a 2-day Early Childhood Research Group Workshop a Charles Sturt University. We have 28 people (staff, post-docs, PhD students) who are in the group with backgrounds in early childhood education, speech pathology, psychology, etc. Day 1: Research agendas, plans and objectives Day 2: Implementation fundamentals (lead by Dr Tamika Heiden)
Early Childhood Research Group Dr Tamara Cumming (Chair) and Prof Sharynne McLeod (Deputy Chair)
Dr Tamika Heiden's workshop on Implementation Science
Participants in Bathurst
Some of the online participants: Sarah Verdon, Kate Margetson, Van Tran, Nicole McGill,
(Michelle Brown, Mandy Cooke, etc.)

February 24, 2020

Charles Sturt University Orientation Week for new students

This week is Orientation Week for new students. It is lovely to have lots of students on campus again to commence the academic year.
With the commencement of the academic year, meetings have begun as well. Last week I attended the Faculty of Arts and Education Research and Graduate Studies Committee Meeting in my role as Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Chair, School of Teacher Education Research Committee and this week am attending Faculty Board as one of three elected members of the Professoriate.

DLD terminology

Recently ASHA published a special issue discussing the terminology for children with language disorders: developmental language disorders (DLD) vs. specific language impairment (SLI).
 On the weekend, Dorothy Bishop who lead the research to standardize the term DLD wrote about errors in the definition of DLD that was used in the ASHA special issue: http://deevybee.blogspot.com/2020/02/changing-terminology-for-childrens.html

February 23, 2020

Singing in Babatana - a language from the Solomon Islands

This morning I was invited to sing in a choir in Babatana, a language spoken by over 7,000 people in the Solomon Islands and my friends who live in Bathurst.
They taught us that the vowels are pronounced in the following way: a = ah, e = eh, i = e, o = o, ö = ur, u = u
Here are some websites about Babatana:

February 21, 2020

Regional Speech Pathology Forum for Albury Wodonga and North Eastern Health

Today I presented at the Regional Speech Pathology Forum for Albury Wodonga and North Eastern Health (details here: https://www.trybooking.com/book/event?eid=586272&). It was wonderful to share the day with 76 speech pathologists from NSW and Victoria (many who had been my students at The University of Sydney and Charles Sturt University)
  • I was invited to speak on the topic of "Communication and Human Rights in Speech Pathology" and presented my speech to the United Nations as well as the background story
  • Dr Michelle Brown spoke on "Early Storybook Reading with Babies" summarizing her current postdoc at CSU
  • Nicole McGill spoke on "Managing Speech Pathology Waiting Lists" summarizing her PhD that she submitted yesterday
Prof Sharynne McLeod
Dr Michelle Brown
Nicole McGill

February 20, 2020

Congratulations Nicole on your PhD submission

Today Nicole McGill submitted her PhD. Her thesis is titled: Wait-Lifting: Active waiting for speech and language services by children and families. It was submitted as a series of 6 journal articles and an exegesis. She was cheered on by her supervisory team: myself in Albury (usually in Bathurst), Dr Kate Crowe in Iceland and Dr Suzanne Hopf in Fiji as well as members of the Speech-Language-Multilingualism team, colleagues at CSU, her family and friends. Her PhD scholarship was from the Research Institute of Professional Practice Learning and Education (RIPPLE) at Charles Sturt University. Congratulations Nicole and best wishes for your examination!
Celebrations at the moment of submission
In person: Nicole and Luke McGill, Prof Sharynne McLeod, Dr Sarah Verdon, Dr Cathy Easton, Dr Linda Wilson
Online: Dr Suzanne Hopf (in Fiji), Dr Kate Crowe (in Iceland at 4am), Dr Helen Blake, Anna Cronin

Suzanne celebrating by the pool in Fiji
 Here is the abstract.
Throughout the world, some children with communication and swallowing needs must wait for support, since there are not enough speech and language services to meet demand. While waiting, children miss the benefits of early intervention and their caregivers may feel fearful, stressed, and disempowered. There is limited knowledge about waiting for speech and language services, solutions for managing waiting lists, and provision of support to those who are waiting. Consequently, this doctoral research explored current perspectives, experiences, and solutions regarding waiting for speech and language services across stakeholder groups (e.g., consumers, professionals), client populations, service contexts, and countries. This doctoral research, known as the Wait-Lifting Study, consisted of a four-phase program of research: (1) thematic analysis of stakeholders’ written submissions to a government Senate Inquiry (n = 133); (2) quantitative and qualitative analysis of SLPs’ questionnaire responses (n = 264); (3) a mixed methods study informing the design of an evidence-based active waiting website via an evaluation of existing sites (n = 25), and consultation with members of the public via a questionnaire (n = 119) and focus groups (n = 16); and (4) a randomised controlled trial evaluating active (provision of the website) versus passive waiting (control group) by children and families (n = 97). Two theoretical frameworks were applied: (1) the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health: Children and Youth Version (ICF-CY), and (2) the theory of preparative waiting. This doctoral research was presented as a series of six journal articles and an exegesis in three parts.
Understanding the status quo: SLPs indicated that waiting duration for both assessment and intervention ranged from 0-42 months. Overall, children most often waited for assessments only (referral → wait → assessment → therapy; n = 67, 33.8%) but could follow a multitude of care pathways depending on their needs or the service they are referred to (e.g., referral → triage → assessment → therapy). Although passive strategies were evident, many consumers and professionals engaged in active strategies to address waiting lists and their consequences. Consumer actions included conducting their own research and relocating to a larger city. Professional actions related to service delivery (e.g., parent information, use of technology), workplace processes and policies (e.g., prioritisation policies), and the workforce (e.g., recruiting more SLPs). Young children and children with feeding and stuttering needs were most often high priority for speech and language services. Severity of communication/swallowing disorder and availability of resources (e.g., funding, staff) were considered the most important prioritisation factors.
Designing and evaluating solutions: A waiting for speech-language pathology website was proposed and evidence-based resources about strategies to implement with children, readable information, and simple web architecture were recommended. A randomised controlled trial comparing active waiting (provision of the website) and passive waiting (control group) by children and caregivers found no statistically significant changes between active and passive waiting groups, indicating that those on waiting lists may require more support than can be provided by a website.
Conclusions and contributions: Waiting lists can have significant consequences for consumers, professionals, and society, including physical, psychological, financial, and ethical burdens. Implicit decision-making, variation, and a lack of clear evidence guiding waiting list practices were apparent. Evidence-building in real-world clinical settings may guide professionals regarding effective waiting list management practices, including creation of care pathways. Transparent and collaborative actions at local and systemic levels are needed to reimagine service provision and access, and optimise outcomes for children and their families.
Celebrating in Albury: Dr Michelle Smith-Tamaray, Sharynne McLeod, Nicole McGill, Dr Sarah Verdon
More celebrating in Albury: Sharynne, Nicole and Dr Lisa Brown
 The following papers have been published to date (more to come soon):
  1. McGill, N., & McLeod, S. (2019). Aspirations for a website to support families’ active waiting for speech-language pathology. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 21(3), 263-274. https://doi.org/10.1080/17549507.2019.1604802
  2. McGill, N., & McLeod, S. (2020). Waiting list management in speech-language pathology: Translating research to practice. Speech, Language and Hearing, 23(1), 2-8. https://doi.org/10.1080/2050571X.2020.1716471 (open access until 31 March 2020)

February 19, 2020

Applying the ICF-CY to expert SLPs’ practice with toddlers with cleft palate speech

The following paper has been accepted today:
Cronin, A., McLeod, S., & Verdon, S. (2020, in press February). Applying the ICF-CY to expert SLPs’ practice with toddlers with cleft palate speech. The Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal.
It forms part of Anna's PhD. Congratulations Anna!
Here is the abstract:
Objective: To evaluate how the practice of specialist speech-language pathologists (SLPs) working with young children with cleft palate ± cleft lip (CP±L) maps onto the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF-CY) and consider the functionality of the categories of the ICF-CY for this specialist area of practice.  
Design: Cross-sectional, qualitative study.
Setting: Semi-structured face-to-face interviews were conducted with SLPs working in tertiary level hospitals, universities, private and public clinics.
Participants: Six specialist SLPs with 17-39 years of experience working with young children with CP±L as researchers and clinicians in Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, and USA.  
Main Outcome Measure(s): Specialists’ practices were captured using in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Data collected were analyzed by directed content analysis applying the ICF-CY coding schema.  
Results: In total 4,077 data points were coded. Most mapped onto Body Structures (684, 16.8%), Body Functions (906, 22.2%) and Environmental Factors (1626, 39.9%). A “best fit” approach was taken to topics that did not map exactly onto categories of the ICF-CY (e.g., velopharyngeal insufficiency; VPI); however, there was not always an ideally suitable category available.  
Conclusions: The current study revealed challenges in categorizing key aspects of practice with children with CP±L, including collaboration with parents and significant others, specificity around speech, language and articulation, and the different types of VPI within the ICF-CY. Therefore, future discussion around how best to use the framework with children with CP±L is needed.

Starting the academic year in the School of Teacher Education

To commence the academic year in the School of Teacher Education, our Head of School Carol Burgess and Donna Bateup hosted a morning tea welcoming new staff. Afterwards Dr Helen Logan (SOTE Research Committee Chair), Dr Tamara Cumming (SOTE HDR coordinator) and I held a research welcome to new staff where we discussed our research histories and passions. We will hold a research CV writing workshop in a couple of weeks' time.
SOTE staff - February 2020
Belinda, Lana, Stacey, Helen, Andi, Tamara, Sharynne, Rahul, Jessica (Brian not pictured)

February 17, 2020

2020 Higher Degree Research Students

This year I am supervising the following HDR students at Charles Sturt University:
  • Anna Cronin - PhD student
  • Nicole McGill - PhD student 
  • Dr Van Tran - PhD student
  • Holly McAlister - Honours student (co-supervisor)
I am co-supervising the following HDR students at other universities:
  • Anniek Van Doornik - PhD student at Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  • Hang Nguyen - Masters student at University of Medicine and Pharmacy, HCMC, Viet Nam
  • Vấn Phạm - Masters student at University of Medicine and Pharmacy, HCMC, Viet Nam
It is a privilege to work with these women and to support them as they undertake their research to benefit children and families around the world. 

ASHFoundation invitation

Last week I spoke with Emeritus Professor Lesley Olswang who invited me to be one of three "thought leaders" to present the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation (ASHFoundation) lecture at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association convention in San Diego in November. What an honour!
Conversation with Prof Lesley Olswang

February 14, 2020

Waiting for speech-language pathology services: A randomised controlled trial comparing device, advice, and therapy

The following paper has been accepted for publication. It is the randomised controlled trial from our Waiting for Speech Pathology NSW Health Translational Research Grant.

McLeod, S., Davis, E., Rohr, K., McGill, N., Miller, K., Roberts, A., Thornton, S., Ahio, N., & Ivory, N. (2020, in press February). Waiting for speech-language pathology services: A randomised controlled trial comparing device, advice, and therapy. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology.

Here is the abstract
Purpose: To compare children’s speech, language and early literacy outcomes, and caregiver empowerment and satisfaction following provision of: 12 sessions of direct intervention (therapy), or face-to-face advice, or a purpose-built website (device) while waiting for therapy.
Method: A 4-stage randomised controlled trial was undertaken involving 3- to 6-year-old children referred to speech-language pathology waiting lists at two Australian community health centres over 8 months (n = 222). Stage 1 (screening): 149 were eligible to participate. Stage 2 (pre-assessment): 117 were assessed. Stage 3 (intervention): 110 were randomised to advice (33), device (39), or therapy (38). Stage 4 (post-assessment): 101 were re-assessed by a speech-language pathologist blinded to the intervention condition.
Result: After controlling for baseline levels, children’s speech (percentage of consonants correct) was significantly higher in the therapy group compared to the advice and device conditions. Caregivers’ satisfaction was also significantly higher in the therapy condition compared to the device condition. There were no significant differences between the three conditions for children’s intelligibility, language, and early literacy or caregivers’ empowerment.
Conclusion: Therapy resulted in significantly higher speech outcomes than the advice and device conditions and was associated with significantly greater caregiver satisfaction. Provision of a website containing evidence-based materials or a single session of advice may be a viable alternative while children wait for therapy targeting intelligibility, language, and early literacy, and to empower caregivers.

February 13, 2020

A/Prof Jon Preston's visit to CSU Bathurst

A/Prof Jonathan Preston has visited Charles Sturt University (CSU) in Bathurst over the past 2 days.  He generously agreed to meet local speech-language pathologists and present a seminar (face-to-face and virtually) regarding his research using ultrasound with children with speech sound disorders.
The seminar was titled "Updates on Ultrasound Biofeedback for the Treatment of Speech Sound Disorders"
Emily Davis, Angela Roberts, Sharynne McLeod, Jon Preston, Lauren after Jon's presentation
Sharynne and Jon comparing notes about electropalatography and ultrasound
Jon also met many of CSU's kangaroos (130 to be exact!).

Jon's trip began navigating the complexities of the Australian rail transport system that has been significantly affected by the bushfires then floods. Here is what I texted to him as he was on his way to Bathurst
I’m really pleased you are going to experience Australia today. As you travel, think about our big country, small population, and the continuing challenges of fires, floods, drought etc. Then look at the map of the whole of Australia and notice that Bathurst actually is extremely close to Sydney - in fact on a number of measures we are not even considered to be “rural” and we definitely are not “remote”. Then overlay those thoughts with being a family with communication disorders/other issues...

February 11, 2020

First articles of the decade in two journals

I am very pleased to announce that my PhD students' papers have been published as the first papers of the decade (first pages in issue 1) in two different journals:
  • Blake, H. L., McLeod, S., & Verdon, S. (2020). Intelligibility Enhancement Assessment and Intervention: A single-case experimental design with two multilingual university students. Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics, 34(1-2), 1-20. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699206.2019.1608470 
  • McGill, N., & McLeod, S. (2020). Waiting list management in speech-language pathology: Translating research to practice. Speech, Language and Hearing, 23(1), 2-8. https://doi.org/10.1080/2050571X.2020.1716471
I have had another paper published in 2020 as well:

February 10, 2020

Supervising Masters students in Viet Nam

This year I have the honour of co-supervising two Masters' students with Dr Ben Phạm who is the primary supervisor. The students (Hang Nguyen and Vấn Phạm) are studying in the Masters of Speech and Language Therapy at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam. They will be researching the use of the Intelligibility in Context Scale with preschool children with speech sound disorders in Northern Viet Nam. We had our first meeting via Skype today. The students had prepared excellent questions, and I think we are going to be a great team. I hope to meet them face-to-face in the middle of this year.
Skype meeting with Hang Nguyen,  Vấn Phạm, and Dr Ben Phạm in Viet Nam

Resources for supporting young children and families during disasters (fire, flood, earthquakes etc.)

Over the past few months, many Australians have experienced bushfires and now floods. Here are some links that can be used to support young children and families during disasters:

February 4, 2020

New beginnings for our SLM team's family

Our SLM team includes mothers who have supported their children to move into new life stages this year. One of our team members' child has begun attending an early childhood education and care centre, two team members' youngest children have started school this week, one has started high school and my youngest started work as a teacher (after finishing her university degree last year). Our family roles are important in understanding the research we do and the lives of our participants and their families.