Speech-language pathology intervention for young offenders
Nathaniel R. Swain
The University of Melbourne
Supervisors: A/Prof Patricia Eadie & Prof Pamela Snow
Advisory Committee: Prof Lorraine Graham (Chair) & A/Prof Miranda Rose
When: Tuesday 25th October 2016, 3.00pm – 4.00pm
Where: Seminar Room 413 & 414, Level 4, 100 Leicester St Carlton
Young offenders are a vulnerable and marginalised group with critical speech, language, and communication needs. Fifty to sixty percent of male young offenders have a clinically significant language disorder. Despite this, little research has focussed on the effectiveness and feasibility of speech-language pathology (SLP) intervention in youth justice settings, and young offenders are typically under-serviced by SLPs.
I conduc ted a yearlong study in a youth justice facility in Victoria, Australia. Along with an assessment study (n = 27), I conducted a phase one language intervention trial using a series of six empirical single case studies. This evaluated the extent to which intensive, one-to-one language intervention improved the language skills of male young offenders. I also investigated the feasibility of delivering SLP services using quantitative and qualitative data, including service efficiency data, qualitative field notes, and a staff focus group.
Individualised intervention programmes were delivered for each of the six single case studies. There were medium-large improvements in the targeted communication skills, many of which were statistically significant. The feasibility data revealed evidence of the usefulness of SLP services, in spite of considerable barriers including difficulty collaborating between agencies, and a high frequency of disruptions and cancellations.
This research provides the most rigorous evidence to date of the effectiveness of one-to-one speech and language therapy for young offenders. This research indicates that, despite significant barriers, there are immense opportunities for effective and responsive SLP services with young offenders, as part of wider efforts to change the risk trajectories of these young people.