Laura Chambers: “Bridging the Gap Between Language Impairment and Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties in Adolescents: Developing an Effective School Based Intervention to Address the Dual Deficit”

In Students by General Account

I graduated from Newcastle University with a first class honours in Speech and Language Sciences in 2020. My project concerns adolescents with language disorders who are often underrepresented within speech and language therapy research and clinical practice.

Many adolescents with Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) difficulties have unidentified language disorders and lack support in communicating with others. This can affect relationships with teaching staff and peers, which can escalate to exclusion from school, a significant risk factor for becoming involved in crime. For many adolescents, language disorders are only identified when they come into contact with the Youth Justice System or mental health services.

The number of children receiving support in schools for Speech Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) is not reflective of estimated prevalence and declines sharply in secondary schools. Conversely the number of adolescents receiving support for SEMH difficulties increases. However, language difficulties may limit their ability to engage with or benefit from talk based therapies or complex management plans implemented by schools or Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

My research aims to identify effective language interventions for adolescents with SLCN from existing literature, and to develop an evidence based intervention for the subgroup of adolescents with co-occurring SEMH and SLCN suitable for delivery in schools. It is hypothesised that effective language intervention will improve communication skills in adolescents with SLCN, and impact positively on their behaviour in school, exclusions or expulsions.