Expectations and experiences of accessing and participating in services for childhood speech impairment

Lindy McAllister, Jane McCormack, Sharynne McLeod, Linda Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)
166 Downloads (Pure)


Speech impairment (speech sound disorder) is a high prevalence condition that responds well to early intervention provided by speech-language pathologists (SLPs). However, not all children in Australia are able to access necessary speech-language pathology services. The aim of this research was to investigate Australian parents' experiences of accessing and engaging in speech-language pathology services for their children with speech impairment. Two studies were conducted to achieve this aim. In Study 1, questionnaires were completed by 109 parents of pre-school children who had been identified with concerns about their speech. Only a third (n'='34, 31.2%) of the parents had previously accessed speech-language pathology services for assessment of their children's speech and just 29 of these (26.6% of the entire sample) reported their children had received intervention. Two thirds (n'='68, 62.4%) of the parents had not sought speech-language pathology services and half of these (n'='35, 32.1% of the entire sample) reported that 'services were not needed'. There was a small number of parents (n'='7, 6.4%) who had attempted to access services but had been unsuccessful. Parents identified teachers, family, friends, and doctors as important sources of information about their children's speech. In Study 2, interviews were conducted with 13 of the parents to discuss their experiences of speech impairment and service delivery in greater depth. Parents expected that others would make them aware of their child's speech impairment and that they should be able to access speech-language pathology services when required. Consequently, there is a need to raise awareness about speech impairment and speech-language pathology services to ensure appropriate identification, referral, and service provision for children at risk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-267
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011

Grant Number

  • DP0773978


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