October 30, 2015

25th anniversary since Australia signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child

This week is Children's Week (24 October–1 November 2015)  and this year marks the 25th anniversary since Australia signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of a Child (UNCRC). Much of our research draws on the UNCRC as a guiding principle. We frequently quote articles 12 and 13 that encourage us to listen to children's views on things that matter to them.

October 14, 2015

Congratulations Sarah (again!)

Today Sarah Masso, my PhD student, learned that she was awarded the Higher Degree Research grant from Speech Pathology Australia (worth $5000). Congratulations Sarah!

October 12, 2015

Enhancing English intelligibility to support participation of multilingual speakers in Australia.

Today Helen Blake had her PhD endorsement session. Helen's PhD proposal is titled: Enhancing English intelligibility to support participation of multilingual speakers in Australia. Sarah Verdon and I are her PhD supervisors. The purpose of Helen's research is to investigate the impact of multilingual speaker’s intelligibility in English on their participation in Australian society and to provide insight into whether intelligibility enhancement has an effect on that participation. 
Helen about to present her endorsement session with her supportive audience

Helen's PhD will consist of 8 papers which have been designed to address the following research questions:

  1. What is the relationship between spoken English proficiency and participation in Australian society (e.g., employment, education and access to services)?
  2. What are multilingual speakers’ perceptions of the impact of their English proficiency on their participation in society?
  3. Which multilingual speakers seek intelligibility enhancement?
  4. Can an intervention for intelligibility enhancement improve multilingual speakers’ intelligibility in English?
  5. What are the experiences of multilingual speakers who participate in intervention for intelligibility enhancement?
  6. What recommendations for practice in intelligibility enhancement can be made as a result of the preceding studies? 
Helen's proposed research is significant because it will provide insight into multilingual speaker’s participation in Australian society at a time when Australia’s economy is benefiting from international students, Australia’s multilingualism is increasing and international asylum seekers escaping conflict and persecution and government policies on immigration are renewing debate around migration, assimilation and cultural diversity in Australia and around the world. Over half a million (503,081) migrants arrived in Australia between the 2006 and 2011 censuses and 67% of them reported speaking a language other than English at home (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013b). 
Helen's research also addresses three of five priorities identified in the government’s Strategic Research Priorities: Planning framework for research in Australia’s national interest:

  • Priority 2. Promoting population health and wellbeing: Identify strategies to maximise social and economic participation in order to build resilient communities.
  • Priority 4. Securing Australia’s place in a changing world: Develop a comprehensive understanding of the Asia Pacific region including cultural, demographic and social change.
  • Priority 5. Lifting productivity and economic growth: Identify the skills required to effectively engage with our region and the world and how to develop them. (Department of Industry and Science, 2013). 
Helen's celebratory lunch with fellow PhD student Ben Pham
and supervisors Sarah Verdon and Sharynne


October 11, 2015

Publication of Introduction to Speech, Language and Literacy

This week I received the first published version of Introduction to Speech, Language and Literacy. Oxford University Press had wrapped it in ribbon, and Katie Ridsdale had written a lovely card to accompany the book. It has been wonderful to work with OUP and their attention to detail, even at this final stage of publication, is typical of the great working relationship we have had during the entire production process. The book was publicized at the Early Start Conference in Wollongong last week, and it is hoped that it may be useful to educators, linguists and speech pathologists.
OUP at the Early Start Conference, Wollongong
The stars of the book's case study videos enjoyed seeing themselves in print

October 9, 2015

Six overarching principles of culturally competent practice

The following manuscript has been accepted for publication ">Verdon, S., McLeod, S., & Wong, S. (2015, in press October). Supporting culturally and linguistically diverse children with speech, language and communication needs: Overarching principles, individual approaches. Journal of Communication Disorders.

It is one of the final papers from Sarah Verdon's PhD and outlines six overarching principles of culturally competent practice. 
>Here is the abstract
Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are working with an increasing number of families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds as the world’s population continues to become more internationally mobile. The heterogeneity of these diverse populations makes it impossible to identify and document a one size fits all strategy for working with culturally and linguistically diverse families. This paper explores approaches to practice by SLPs identified as specialising in multilingual and multicultural practice in culturally and linguistically diverse contexts from around the world. Data were obtained from ethnographic observation of 14 sites in 5 countries on 4 continents. The sites included hospital settings, university clinics, school-based settings, private practices and Indigenous community-based services. There were 652 individual artefacts collected from the sites which included interview transcripts, photographs, videos, narrative reflections, informal and formal field notes. The data were analysed using Cultural-Historical Activity Theory (Engeström, 1987). From the analysis six overarching principles of culturally competent practice (PCCP) were identified. These were: (1) identification of culturally appropriate and mutually motivating therapy goals, (2) knowledge of languages and culture, (3) use of culturally appropriate resources, (4) consideration of the cultural, social and political context, (5) consultation with families and communities, and (6) collaboration between professionals. These overarching principles align with the six position statements developed by the International Expert Panel on Multilingual Children’s Speech (2012) which aim to enhance the cultural competence of speech pathologists and their practice. The international examples provided in the current study demonstrate the individualised ways that these overarching principles are enacted in a range of different organisational, social, cultural and political contexts. Tensions experienced in enacting the principles are also discussed. This paper emphasises the potential for individual SLPs to enhance their practice by adopting these overarching principles to support the individual children and families in diverse contexts around the world.

Parental beliefs and experiences regarding involvement in intervention for their child with speech sound disorder

The following manuscript has just been accepted for publication based on the thesis of Dr Nicole Watts Pappas, my former PhD student.
Watts Pappas, N., McAllister, L., & McLeod, S. (2015, in press October). Parental beliefs and experiences regarding involvement in intervention for their child with speech sound disorder. Child Language Teaching and Therapy.
Here is the abstract

Parental beliefs and experiences regarding involvement in speech intervention for their child with mild-moderate speech sound disorder (SSD) were explored using multiple, sequential interviews conducted during a course of treatment. Twenty-one interviews were conducted with seven parents of six children with SSD; (1) after their child’s initial assessment, (2) during intervention and (3) at the conclusion of an intervention block. Qualitative analysis of the interviews revealed several factors that influenced the parents’ beliefs and experiences. These included: (1) their motivation to do the right thing by their child; (2) their expectations of parent/professional roles; (3) their interactions with their child in the experience; (4) their interactions with the speech language therapist (SLT); and (5) the nature of the child’s difficulties. The parents in the study wanted to be involved in their child’s intervention but were reluctant to participate in intervention sessions. This preference appeared to be influenced by prior expectations of parent/professional roles and a belief that they would ‘interfere’ in the session. Additionally, whilst they appreciated being asked for their opinion regarding intervention goals and activities, the parents had a preference for the therapist to take the lead. Parental belief in the SLT as the expert influenced this preference, but the SLTs’ beliefs and practice may also have played a role. The less pervasive nature of the child’s difficulties influenced the form of service preferred by the parents. Most particularly, the parents were more eager to work with their child at home and had a more marked preference for intervention sessions with the SLT to focus on their child rather than their family than did parents of children with pervasive disabilities investigated in other studies. The findings of the study have implications for how therapists may best work with families of children with less pervasive difficulties in intervention.