305 – Early childhood professionals’ knowledge, beliefs and practices when supporting children suspected of communication disorders

Presentation - ECV2022-305

Early childhood professionals’ knowledge, beliefs and practices when supporting children suspected of communication disorders

Sarah Verdon, Charles Sturt University, Australia (sverdon@csu.edu.au)
Nicole McGill, Charles Sturt University, Australia (nmcgill@csu.edu.au )
Laura Hoffman, Charles Sturt University, Australia (lhoffman@csu.edu.au )
Tana Cuming, Charles Sturt University, Australia (tcuming@csu.edu.au )
Anna Cronin, Australian Catholic University, Australia (anna.cronin@acu.edu.au)

Background: Early childhood professionals (ECPs e.g., early childhood educators, maternal child health nurses) are key agents for the provision of and referral to early intervention for children’s communication disorders. Currently, little is known about ECPs’ knowledge and practice regarding suspected communication disorders.

Aim: To investigate ECPs’ knowledge, attitudes and practices when encountering children they suspect of having communication disorders.

Method: Australian ECPs (n = 540) completed a 19-item online survey investigating ECPs’ knowledge, beliefs and practices related to children’s communication. A principal components’ factor analysis identified five latent factors in the data. Regression analyses then identified relationships between ECPs’ responses and demographics. Finally, open-ended comments were analysed via inductive content analysis.

Results: ECPs acknowledged the importance of the early years and the role of play in supporting early communication development. Contention existed about their perceived role in supporting language acquisition and early literacy development. Personal factors, such as level of qualification and training, were significantly related to ECPs’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices.

Conclusions: The findings of this study highlight the importance of collaboration between different disciplines of ECPs and speech-language pathologists. Positive outcomes related to further education and training indicate that enhanced support for ECPs will enable early identification and intervention for children with communication disorders.

Implications for children and families: You will learn about the ECPs’ perspectives and experiences in supporting children and families when they suspect a child of having a communication disorder.

Implications for practitioners: You will learn about diverse perspectives and experiences of ECPs when supporting children with a communication disorder. 

Funding: This research was funded by an Early Career Researcher Grant from Charles Sturt University

Key words: children’s voices, communication, education, health, quantitative methods

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

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