Speech and Hearing Sciences - Masters by Research Theses

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    The development of a core school-based Lámh vocabulary to facilitate effective communication between children with Down syndrome and their communication partners in the first year of mainstream primary school
    (University College Cork, 2021-01-08) Lyons, Caoimhe; Frizelle, Pauline; Irish Research Council
    Background: In Ireland, the entry-level key word sign (KWS) training for teachers and school staff is the Lámh Module 1 training course, which does not contain vocabulary specifically chosen to support school-age Lámh users. However, if KWS is to be used successfully by children with Down syndrome (DS) in a mainstream school environment, it is essential that communication partners have access to a meaningful, contextually appropriate sign vocabulary. Aim: To identify the Lámh vocabulary needs of children with DS and their communication partners over the course of the first year of mainstream primary school, with the aim of developing a core school-based Lámh vocabulary. Method: Five key groups contributed signs to the core vocabulary: participants with DS in junior infants (n=6), their teachers (n=5), special needs assistants (n=8), and peers (n=9), and the researcher (a Speech and Language Therapist). The researcher contributed signs based on observations of the classroom, the participants with DS contributed signs during guided tours of the school environment, and the teachers, SNAs and peers contributed signs by means of structured interviews. This data collection took place at four time points over the school year. Signs were considered to be part of the core vocabulary if they were contributed five times or more over the course of the year, and by three or more of the groups. Results: The core school-based Lámh vocabulary contained 140 words, including 132 Lámh signs and eight words that do not currently have a Lámh sign. Only 55 (39%) of the 140 signs recommended as core vocabulary for schools are part of the training currently most commonly accessed by school staff. The remaining 77 signs (55%) are part of more advanced training. Conclusion: The current study provides new insights into the complex process of vocabulary selection for children who use Lámh in a mainstream school environment. In addition, it highlights the importance of access to a functional sign vocabulary in facilitating an inclusive approach to education, and enhanced communicative practice by all of those engaging with children with DS in mainstream primary school.
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    Predicting expressive vocabulary change in young children growing up in Ireland
    (University College Cork, 2018-06) Bowles, Caoimhe; O'Toole, Ciara; Lee, Alice
    During the preschool years expressive vocabulary development is highly variable, which makes it difficult for healthcare and education professionals to identify children with delays that require early intervention services. Previous research has highlighted the need to identify a reliable set of risk and protective factors which predict expressive vocabulary outcomes. The current study explored patterns of expressive vocabulary development between 3 and 5 years using a large population-based sample of 8,266 children. Expressive vocabulary was measured using the naming vocabulary subtest of the British Abilities Scales (BAS) and information relating to additional risk factors was gathered through questionnaires with the primary caregiver. Four patterns of expressive vocabulary development were identified, 89.9% of children had no expressive vocabulary delay, 2.8% of children were delayed at 3 years only (resolving delay), 5.0% were delayed at 5 years only (late onset delay) and 2.3% had a persisting expressive vocabulary delay. Five factors differentiated between the no delay and late onset delay groups. These factors were, learning English as an additional language, low parent education levels, low frequency of book reading, low frequency of home learning activities and few children’s books in the home. Learning English as an additional language was the only factor which differentiated between resolving delay group and children with a persisting delay. The information gleaned from the current study has implications for clinical practice and identifies the need for a service delivery model which incorporates monitoring over time and providing intervention on the basis of language abilities and associated risks.
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    An effectiveness study of a parent-child interaction therapy with children with Down syndrome
    (University College Cork, 2020-04) Cronin, Sarah Marie; Frizelle, Pauline; O'Toole, Ciara; Down Syndrome Ireland
    Background: Parents of children with Down syndrome (DS) often demonstrate directive parenting styles which can impede on their child’s communication development. For that reason, parent-child interaction therapies have shown to be an effective form of early intervention for children with DS as it facilitates parent coaching while also addressing the specific communication needs of children with DS. This study aimed to explore the effectiveness of the PELD (Promotion of Early Language Development) intervention offered by a speech and language therapy (SLT) service for individuals with DS. The study aimed to explore the impact this programme had on the language development and communicative interactions of children with DS, while also exploring the change in the interaction and communication strategies employed by their parents. Methodology: A single-subject multiple-baseline design was employed to evaluate the effectiveness of the PELD intervention. Seven child participants and their mothers took part in the study. All participants were aged between 10-17 months at the time of entry. Three terms of the intervention were offered over a 10 month period and families had the option of completing all or some of the terms. Data was collected over three to five time points depending on when the child commenced the intervention. Standardised assessments, parental report and observational measures were used to capture change for both the parent and child. Results: Improvements in receptive vocabulary, use of key word signs, gesture use and a child’s ability to respond to joint attention were noted in the majority of child participants. Children who attended all three terms of the intervention seemed to benefit the most from the PELD programme as they demonstrated a wide range of gestures, understood the most words and used the most Lámh signs post-intervention as reported by their parents. With regards to parent outcomes, all parents were successful in adapting their parenting style and a notable increase in each parents’ ability to follow their child’s lead, join in and play and incorporate a time delay into parent-child interactions was observed. Parents also used language that was developmentally appropriate for their children and increased their use of labelling and repetition of key words post-intervention. Conclusions: The PELD programme is the first parent-child interaction therapy to be tailored specifically to children with DS who are of a very young age. There was some indication that the PELD intervention can support the development of early language skills and the communicative intentions of young children with DS while also upskilling their parents in specific communication and interaction strategies that promote the language development of their child.