Facilitating Engagement with Speech and Language Services in Children of Adolescent Mothers
CPS ePoster Library. Thompson G. 06/01/17; 176564; 3
Gillian Thompson
Gillian Thompson
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Background: The relationship between early language delay and lower socioeconomic status is well established. This trend is particularly troubling when considering the outcomes of children born to adolescent mothers, whose incomes tend to fall well below the poverty line and whose difficult social circumstances may undermine the provision of an enriching home literacy environment for their children. Among the children of adolescent mothers involved in a Teen-Tot clinic, almost half of the children were identified with an expressive speech and language delay by the age of 18 months. Despite the successes of early intervention, it is believed that less than 25% of adolescent mothers involved with the Teen-Tot clinic whose children were identified with a speech delay followed-up with the recommended hearing assessment and referral to preschool speech and language services.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to better understand factors that would facilitate engagement with speech and language services for children of adolescent mothers, and to explore alternative delivery models for this service.

Methods: Adolescent mothers receiving care at a Teen-Tot clinic were invited to: 1) complete a survey that asked about their home literacy environment, their perception of their child's speech and language development, and perceived barriers to accessing community-based speech and language services; and 2) participate in a single speech and language education session followed by a focus group to elicit their feedback about alternative delivery models for speech and language services. Survey data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, and the focus group discussions were analysed using a descriptive qualitative approach.

Results: Survey data revealed significant barriers to engagement with community-based speech and language services. When asked about preferred delivery models for speech and language services, focus groups participants indicated that they were most interested in attending group speech and language sessions offered within the Teen-Tot clinic by a speech and language professional.

Conclusion: There is a high prevalence of early speech and language delay among the children of adolescent mothers. Many of these mothers face difficulties engaging with traditional speech and language services due to systemic barriers and personal circumstances. Our study revealed that group speech and language sessions offered within the setting of a Teen-Tot clinic may be an effective strategy for engaging young mothers in addressing their children's early speech and language delay and ultimately facilitating positive developmental and socio-economic outcomes.

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