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Implementation of universal screening of DLD (Christopulos & Redmond, 2023)

online resource
posted on 2023-07-17, 20:40 authored by Tyler T. Christopulos, Sean M. Redmond

Purpose: Developmental language disorder (DLD) is an underidentified neurodevelopmental disorder that affects, on average, one out of 11 kindergarten-age children (ages 4–6 years). Children with DLD can face academic, behavioral, psychiatric, emotional, and social challenges. Universal screening is seen as an effective way for public school districts to increase DLD identification rates. However, little is known about factors impacting implementation of school-based universal screenings for DLD. We partnered with a large suburban school district in the Intermountain West region of the United States to gather detailed perspectives from school personnel regarding the barriers and facilitators to the implementation of universal screening in their district.

Method: Using a two-phase mixed-methods design, we first conducted focus groups to identify potential barriers and facilitators to universal screening. We then used the qualitative data from the first phase to develop a 20-item survey to assess agreement with the focus group results among a wider group of district speech-language pathologists and kindergarten teachers from the school district.

Results: Our survey showed moderate levels of agreement with our focus group results. In particular, school personnel showed high levels of support for universal screening for DLD, with interesting interplay across various factors: (a) the negative impact of unmanageable workload on personnel under both referral- and universal-based identification formats, (b) the preference for paraprofessionals to administer screenings, (c) the role that Response to Intervention programs may play in offsetting workloads associated with universal screenings, and (d) the need for increased awareness and education about child language development and impairment among general education teachers and the public.

Conclusion: Recommendations for incorporating these factors into more useful and applicable collaborative research-based efforts are presented.

Supplemental Material S1. Survey instrument.

Supplemental Material S2. Focus groups guided, semistructured questions. 

Christopulos, T. T., & Redmond, S. M. (2023). Factors impacting implementation of universal screening of developmental language disorder in public schools. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools. Advance online publication.

Publisher Note: This article is part of the Forum: Implementation Science in School-Based Settings.