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Article Summary: Identifying Speech, Language and Communication Needs among Children in Residential care
This was authored by Susan McCool & Irene Stevens in the Scottish Journal of Residential Childcare. They highlights that levels of communication impairment are likely to be higher among looked after children than they are in the general population. They also acknowledge the claims that communication needs in this vulnerable population remain largely undetected and unmet yet empirical research in the area is lacking. The study sets out to explore the levels and nature of speech, language and communication impairments in this population; and to consider the use of a screening tool intended to differentiate those with difficulties in the structural aspects of speech and language from those with difficulties of a pragmatic or social nature.
The authors explain that the CCC-2 which has been developed to provide a general screen for communication disorder and to identify impairments in the pragmatic and social interaction realm was the main material used. Residential care staff completed the CCC-2 regarding children well-known to them. The resulting data were then analysed to determine the level and nature of reported communication difficulty within the sample population. Children’s homes in four local authority areas in Scotland participated. Completed checklists were returned and responses analyzed using CCC-2 Excel software. The study indicated substantially higher levels of communication impairment among children in residential care than exists in the general population. Further, the likelihood of communication impairment detected was considerably higher among males. Predictions of high levels of pragmatic and social difficulties were borne out by results of the investigation. The impairment observed in 26.7 percent of the overall sample population had the profile indicative of the social and communicative impairments typically associated with autistic spectrum disorders.
The importance of a competent, caring, nurturing, stable foster or kinship parent in supporting and advocating for a child’s health and well-being cannot be stressed enough ( Leslie et al., 2005). However, not all children are lucky to have such and many find themselves in residential care where they get challenges in language and communication. Unfortunately, children entering foster care have most likely lived in deprived, chaotic environments for significant periods of time. In addition, many have experienced multiple caregivers before entering foster care, so they have not formed the stable attachment over time to a nurturing caregiver that is the good foundation for language and communication (Rosen, Rubin,Szilagyi,Zlotnik, 2015). The study helps explain the extent of communication impairment among the children in residential care. However, the sample population is very small and the study was done in a small geographical location. The study also fails to show why more males than females are affected.
Leslie, L. K., Gordon, J. N., Lambros, K., Premji, K., Peoples, J., & Gist, K. (2005). Addressing the Developmental and Mental Health Needs of Young Children in Foster Care. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics : JDBP, 26(2), 140–151.
Rosen, D.S, Rubin, D, Szilagyi. M.A, Zlotnik, S. (2015) Health Care Issues for Children and Adolescents in Foster Care and Kinship Care. Pediatrics Oct 2015, 136 (4) e1142-e1166; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2015-2656