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Developmental language disorders and adolescent risk: a public-health advocacy role for speech pathologists?

journal contribution
posted on 2004-12-01, 00:00 authored by P Snow, Martine Powell
Within the multi-disciplinary team concerned with child and adolescent development, speech pathologists are uniquely positioned to understand the nature and overall developmental significance of language acquisition in childhood and adolescence. Other disciplines contribute valuable insights about psychosocial development during the childhood and adolescent years. The field of developmental psychology, for example provides a large and convincing body of evidence about the role of academic success as a protective factor against a range of psychosocial harms, in particular substance misuse, truancy, early school leaving, and juvenile offending. In this paper, we argue that juvenile offending embodies the notion of "adolescent risk", but in Australia in particular, has been under-investigated with respect to possible associations with developmental language disorders and subsequent academic failure. We present findings pertaining to a sample of 30 male juvenile offenders completing community based orders. Performance on a range of oral language processing and production skills was poorer than that of a demographically similar comparison group. Our results confirm the need to conceptualize language within a broader risk and protective framework. We therefore emphasize the public health importance of early language competence, by virtue of the psychosocial protection it confers on young people with respect to the development of prosocial skills, transition to literacy and overall academic achievement. We argue that speech pathologists are best positioned to advocate at a policy level about the broader public health importance of oral language competence.

History

Journal

Advances in speech language pathology

Volume

6

Issue

4

Pagination

221 - 229

Publisher

Singular Publishing Group

Location

San Diego, Calif.

ISSN

1441-7049

Language

eng

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal; C Journal article

Copyright notice

2004, The Speech Pathology Association of Australia Limited

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