Dr Alice Eriks-Brophy, Associate Professor from the Department of Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Toronto, presented a two day workshop at the Victorian Deaf Education Institute on 14 and 15 August 2013.
Dr Eriks-Brophy teaches courses in aural rehabilitation and articulation development and disorders at the University of Toronto. Prior to embarking on an academic career, Alice worked as an itinerant teacher for the Montreal Oral School for the Deaf and as an elementary classroom teacher in several Aboriginal communities in northern and southern Quebec.
Dr Eriks-Brophy’s research interests include the role of the family involvement in communication outcomes for children with hearing loss as well as the provision of culturally appropriate intervention to minority culture children. An ongoing research project examines minority language families’ perceptions of their involvement in early oral intervention programs for their children with hearing loss and the goodness of fit of intervention and participation expectations with these perceptions. The project involves the use of the LENA device, a digital body-worn language processor that captures aspects of language interactions between adults and children including adult input, children’s speech and non-speech vocalizations, turn taking, and environmental stimuli. A recently completed project examined the use of telehealth in the provision of culturally appropriate speech and language assessments for bilingual and English dialect speaking First Nations children living in remote and isolated regions of northern Ontario.
The first workshop ‘Supporting families by enhancing family involvement’ (held on 14 August), emphasised the effect of families feeling well supported. Especially highlighted was that when well supported, families felt less stressed and showed increased wellbeing. This in turn results in families being more effective in taking on the various roles associated with having a child with hearing loss, including facilitating children’s overall development.
With the goal to optimally support families and enhance children’s communication outcomes, results of a systemic review examining the predictive role of family involvement in children’s communication outcomes were presented. Several well-known tools which examine parental involvement were examined and discussed. Using one of these tools Alice then facilitated discussion about the factors known to affect family involvement highlighted in the tool and how these behaviours can be moderated. The final part of the presentation focussed on the exploration of a questionnaire Alice is currently developing to examine parental involvement.
“Very informative – made me think a lot about how I run therapy sessions in a school setting and how to incorporate ‘better’ family involvement including being aware of family’s cultural beliefs,” said Christine Nguyen, speech pathologist, Furlong Park School for Deaf Children.
“It was excellent to have the opportunity to look at family (parent) involvement and look at assessment tools that could be used to improve my practice,” said Denyse Bainbridge, Hearing Team Coordinator, School Support Services, Department of Education and Children’s Services, Northern Territory Government. “It was a very friendly and welcoming venue. Thank you.”
On the second day, Dr Eriks-Brophy focussed on cultural issues in assessment and intervention for Indigenous children with hearing loss. Alice explored working with children and families from Indigenous backgrounds and the considerations necessary for professionals. Many commonly used principles and practices in assessment and intervention may need to be reconsidered or adjusted when working with families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Methods of enhancing cultural competence and cultural safety were highlighted through discussion of participants’ experiences in working with families.