Teacher referrals to speech pathologists for speech, language and communication needs in the first year of school
thesisposted on 29.03.2022, 01:48 by Cassandra Beasley
Children with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) experience difficulties in many areas of their development and learning. Teachers are responsible for referring these children to speech-language pathologists (SLPs). Yet, teachers lack adequate knowledge, training or tools to accurately identify children with SLCN. Consequently, many children do not receive the speech therapy they need. A better understanding of teachers' and SLPs' views on the referral process and on suitable SLCN indicators might inform and enhance collaboration between the two professions, and ultimately help them provide better support for children with SLCN. This study examined the referral process for children with SLCN in the first year of school in New South Wales, Australia, and the importance that teachers and SLPs assign to indicators of SLCN. Two surveys were completed by 47 teachers and 56 SLPs. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 13 of these survey respondents, 6 teachers and 7 SLPs. The analysis of the data revealed: some confusion about the referral process among SLPs; teachers' hesitation in referring children with SLCN to SLPs and uncertainty about the scope of SLP practice; suggestions for improving children's level and ease of access to SLP services such as having more SLPs at schools, making SLP services more affordable, more professional development for teachers regarding SLCN; increasing parent involvement; and divergence in the importance that teachers and SLPs assign to indicators of SLCN in children.