Wednesday, June 10, 2020

“Tell Me About Your Child”: A Grounded Theory Study of Mothers' Understanding of Language Disorder

Ash, A. C., Christopulos, T. T., & Redmond, S. M. (2020). “Tell me about your child”: A grounded theory study of mothers' understanding of language disorder. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology29(2), 819-840.

A mother who is concerned about her child’s language development and consults a speech-language pathologist (SLP) might expect to find out if the child has a language disorder, the name of the language disorder, and gain a better understanding of language disorders. “Disclosure” refers to the first instance that a diagnosis is communicated to parents. Previous work with children with a variety of development disabilities indicates that parents are typically unhappy with disclosure conversations. The disclosure process for language disorder in particular, however, has yet to be studied. 

In this study, twelve mothers of children receiving SLP services for the study were engaged in a semi-structured interview about the diagnostic process. Interview transcripts were coded and checked, and saturation was reached. Data analysis revealed four main themes relating to (1) confusion regarding diagnosis, related to the use of unclear or irrelevant labels for language disorder, (2) maternal distress regarding the language problem, (3) lack of trust or understanding of SLP and (4) general satisfaction with SLP services received. 

There are a number of important clinical applications of this work, although more research is undoubtedly needed. These results add to the growing body of evidence to suggest that one widely used label for language disorder, such as “Developmental Language Disorder” as proposed by the CATALISE consortium, would prove helpful to parents in understanding their child’s diagnosis and seeking resources accordingly. This may also alleviate some of the mistrust and misunderstanding participants’ reference in regards to working with an SLP. Additionally, the distress described by mother’s in regards to their child’s language difficulties long after therapy was initially recommended suggests more research is needed to understand the factors that contribute to this distress and how SLPs could help to mitigate it.   

Blogger: Taylor Bardell is a combined MClSc/PhD student in Speech-Language Pathology, supervised by Dr. Lisa Archibald

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