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Aim

The aim of this study was to establish the construct validity of the Focus on the Outcomes of Communication Under Six (FOCUS©),a tool designed to measure changes in communication skills in preschool children.

Method

Participating families' children (n=97; 68 males, 29 females; mean age 2y 8mo; SD 1.04y, range 10mo–4y 11mo) were recruited through eight Canadian organizations. The children were on a waiting list for speech and language intervention. Parents completed the Ages and Stages Questionnaire – Social/Emotional (ASQ-SE) and the FOCUS three times: at assessment and at the start and end of treatment. A second sample (n=28; 16 males 12 females) was recruited from another organization to correlate the FOCUS scores with speech, intelligibility and language measures. Second sample participants ranged in age from 3 years 1 month to 4 years 9 months (mean 3y 11mo; SD 0.41y). At the start and end of treatment, children were videotaped to obtain speech and language samples. Parents and speech–language pathologists (SLPs) independently completed the FOCUS tool. SLPs who were blind to the pre/post order of the videotapes analysed the samples.

Results

The FOCUS measured significantly more change (p<0.01) during treatment than during the waiting list period. It demonstrated both convergent and discriminant validity against the ASQ-SE. The FOCUS change corresponded to change measured by a combination of clinical speech and language measures (κ=0.31, p<0.05).

Conclusion

The FOCUS shows strong construct validity as a change-detecting instrument.