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Keywords:

  • communication;
  • indicators;
  • participation;
  • preschool children;
  • speech and language therapy

Abstract

Background

The FOCUS© is a new outcome tool for use by both parents and clinicians that measures changes in the communicative participation skills of preschool children. Changes in communicative participation skills as measured by the FOCUS were compared across three groups of children: those with speech impairments only (SI), those with language impairments only (LI) and those with both speech and language impairments (S/LI).

Methods

Participating families (n = 112, 75 male children) were recruited through 13 Canadian organizations. Children ranged from 10 months to 6 years 0 months (mean = 2.11 years; SD = 1.18 years) and attended speech-language intervention. Parents completed the FOCUS at the start and end of treatment. There were 23 children in the SI group, 62 children in the LI group and 27 children in the S/LI group. The average amount of the children's therapy varied from 7 to 10 h.

Results

The FOCUS captures changes in communicative participation for children with a range of communication disorder types and severities. All three groups of children made clinically important improvements according to their FOCUS scores (MCID ≥ 16 points). The FOCUS captured improvements in intelligibility, independent communication, play and socialization.

Conclusions

The FOCUS measured positive changes in communicative participation skills for all three groups of children after 7–10 h of speech-language therapy. An outcome measure that targets only specific speech and language skills would miss many of the important social function changes associated with speech-language treatment.