Treating children with speech sound disorders

Mrs Lisa Furlong1, Professor Meg Morris1,2, Dr. Shane Erickson1, Dr. Tanya Serry1

1La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia, 2Healthscope Northpark Private Hospital, Melbourne, Australia

Aim

This research explored the intervention practices of paediatric SLPs in the management of childhood SSD, including their beliefs about what works, the influence of their clinical experiences and the impact of client and service-related variables on their clinical decision making.

Method

Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with 11 Australian SLPs about how they approach intervention with children who have an SSD. Analysis comprised both a content analysis to identify common factors and an inductive thematic analysis to identify key themes emerging from the interviews.

Results

Preliminary results suggest that rather than adhering to one core approach, SLPs engage in eclectic practices, whereby they combine elements from a range of intervention approaches. Insight into the perceived roles and responsibilities of the parent/caregiver, child and SLP in the intervention process was gained. The reciprocal relationship between these roles as well as with the core dimensions of reflective practice, knowledge and; organisational barriers and facilitators, provided an understanding of SLPs’ clinical decision making for this client population.

Significance of the findings to allied health

In clinical settings, a host of factors influence the decision making and subsequent standard of care provided by SLPs to children with SSD. Preliminary findings have revealed challenges unique to practising SLPs; challenges which are less common in a research environment. To facilitate evidence-based practice, SLPs need to play a role in the research process. Clinician, client and service-related barriers need to be reduced or eliminated and strategies to support knowledge translation and exchange need to be implemented.