Current Research Projects

Interconnections between DLD and the NDIS

Navigating the NDIS is a challenging and difficult task. There is anecdotal evidence that the NDIS design, structures and processes unfairly disadvantage children with DLD and their families. SALDARI has commissioned research to formalise the evidence surrounding this issue which will enable SALDA to advocate more effectively for change.

Evaluating Language Progress of Students with Developmental Language Disorder using Language Sample Analysis (Griffith University)

This study aimed to measure the progress students made over the course of a year at The Glenleighden School. Baseline measures were taken at the start of 2016 across multiple developmental domains, as well as collating current standardised assessment results for 90 students. Language samples were taken and the beginning and end of the year for comparison. Successful grant applications through Speech Pathology Australia and Griffith University enabled all language sampled to be transcribed and entered by a research assistant. Initial findings indicate students make progress in their oral language throughout the school year. Further analysis is currently being undertaken to explore the clinical significance of these findings.

Past Research Projects

Investigating the Sensory Profiles and Motor Skills of Children with Language Disorder (Griffith University)

There is currently research to support a relationship between language and motor development, as well as motor development and sensory processing, however, there is limited research linking all three areas. Sensory behaviours in children with Language Disorder is also significantly under researched. In this study, the sensory, motor and language assessment data for 28 students were extracted from the larger retrospective study outlined above. Atypical sensory behaviours were found in children with Language Disorder, but not as significant as other populations (e.g. Autism Spectrum Disorder). Children with poorer language skills were also found to have poorer motor skills. These findings support the importance of multidisciplinary support for students with Language Disorder, particularly highlight the essential skills of occupational therapists in the team.

DOI: 10.1080/1034912X.2020.1740186

Measuring Language Progress in Students with Developmental Language Disorder while Attending a Specialist School (Griffith University)

Throughout 2016, the demographic and multidisciplinary assessment data of the 245 students who attended The Glenleighden School from 2005-2015 was extracted. The research team investigated whether students with Developmental Language Disorder demonstrate improvement in receptive and/or expressive language skills on the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF) following attendance at The Glenleighden School. The study focused on 64 students in the larger dataset who had assessment results when they started and at one other time point while at school. Results showed significant improvement in the student’s receptive and expressive language during their enrolment at the school with some accelerated improvement. These results are promising and provide some initial evidence for the effectiveness of The Glenleighden School promoting language growth in their students.

These findings were presented at the Speech Pathology Australia National Conference in Sydney and the paper has been accepted for publication following peer-review in the Journal of Clinical Practice in Speech-Language Pathology’s special edition on Developmental Language Disorder in March 2018.

Staff Knowledge and Use of Evidence Based Practice (Griffith University)

Staff across SALDA’s services participated in a questionnaire style study, which investigated evidence based practice in the work environment, knowledge and use of intervention practices and their own attitudes towards intervention. This study is important, because Language Disorder continues to be an underfunded area of research. In fact, there are three times more studies on dyslexia and ten times more studies on speech sound disorders, which impacts practitioner’s abilities to provide evidence informed treatment for Language Disorder. Over many years this has resulted in a wide range of interventions being utilised by staff.

A high correlation between the interventions used and the staff member’s knowledge of these interventions was found. Further work is planned to review the evidence underpinning these interventions. It is positive to note staff felt there were resources, cultural expectations and supervisory expectations to utilise evidence based practice. Overall, staff at SALDA believe there is a great need to utilise research when working with children and young people with Language Disorder. These findings were presented at the Speech Pathology Australia National Conference in Sydney. and a manuscript is being written for publication in a peer-reviewed journal in 2018.

Activities and Participation of Children with Language Disorder (Australian Catholic University)

In 2017, students and families from The Glenleighden School were invited to participate in a Honour’s research project through the Australian Catholic University. This research considered the limitations in social participation as a result of having Language Disorder. Knowledge of the participation patterns of children with Language Disorder is limited, yet identification of participation patterns would be beneficial when developing speech pathology interventions. This study compared the participation of primary school-aged children diagnosed with Language Disorder or Language Disorder with comorbid diagnoses with that of their typically developing peers. A total of nineteen children participated and their participation was assessed in the areas of recreational, physical, social, skill based and self-improvement activities. The researchers found participants with Language Disorder did not have as diverse a range of formal activities than their typically developing peers, and students with comorbidities even less so.

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