Journal of Communication Disorders
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Purpose: Delays in vocal development are an early predictor of ongoing language difficulty for children who are deaf/hard-of-hearing (CDHH). Despite the importance of monitoring early vocal development in clinical practice, there are few suitable tools. This study aimed to identify the clinical decisions that speech-language pathologists (SLPs) most want to make when assessing vocal development and their current barriers to doing so.
Method: 58 SLPs who provide services to CDHH younger than 22 months completed a survey. The first section measured potential barriers to vocal development assessment. The second section asked SLPs to rate the importance of 15 clinical decisions they could make about vocal development.
Results: SLPs believed assessing vocal development was important for other stakeholders, and reported they had the necessary skills and knowledge to assess vocal development. Barriers primarily related to a lack of commercially available tests. SLPs rated all 15 clinical decisions as somewhat or very important. Their top 5 decisions included a variety of assessment purposes that tests are not typically designed to support, including measuring change, differential diagnosis, and goal setting.
Conclusions: SLPs wish to make a number of clinical decisions when assessing vocal development in CDHH but lack access to appropriate tools to do so. Future work is needed to develop tools that are statistically equipped to fulfill these purposes. Understanding SLPs’ assessment purposes will allow future tests to better map onto the clinical decisions that SLPs need to make to support CDHH and their families and facilitate implementation into clinical practice.
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