School-Based Speech-Language Pathologists' Perspectives on Diagnostic Decision Making Purpose This study used a structured open interview approach to elicit information from school-based speech-language pathologists (SLPs) regarding their assessment practices for children with suspected language impairment. Method Phone interviews were conducted with 39 school-based SLPs who were employed across the United States. The interviews explored assessment topics ... Research Article
Research Article  |   May 03, 2018
School-Based Speech-Language Pathologists' Perspectives on Diagnostic Decision Making
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Katrina Fulcher-Rood
    The State University of New York, Buffalo State
  • Anny P. Castilla-Earls
    University of Houston, TX
  • Jeff Higginbotham
    University at Buffalo, NY
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Katrina Fulcher-Rood: katrina.fulcher@gmail.com
  • Editor: Krista Wilkinson
    Editor: Krista Wilkinson×
  • Associate Editor: Erinn Finke
    Associate Editor: Erinn Finke×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / Language Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Research Articles
Research Article   |   May 03, 2018
School-Based Speech-Language Pathologists' Perspectives on Diagnostic Decision Making
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, May 2018, Vol. 27, 796-812. doi:10.1044/2018_AJSLP-16-0121
History: Received June 29, 2016 , Revised December 14, 2016 , Accepted January 9, 2018
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, May 2018, Vol. 27, 796-812. doi:10.1044/2018_AJSLP-16-0121
History: Received June 29, 2016; Revised December 14, 2016; Accepted January 9, 2018

Purpose This study used a structured open interview approach to elicit information from school-based speech-language pathologists (SLPs) regarding their assessment practices for children with suspected language impairment.

Method Phone interviews were conducted with 39 school-based SLPs who were employed across the United States. The interviews explored assessment topics related to assessment tool selection and rationale and the integration of assessment data to determine treatment eligibility.

Results The results of this study suggest that SLPs use both standardized testing and informal testing for their diagnostic procedures. Standardized testing appears to be the tool that drives diagnostic decisions regarding eligibility and severity. Informal measures, such as parent/teacher interviews and language sampling, were used by school-based SLPs to gather information regarding naturalistic language use; however, they seem less important in the diagnostic decision-making process. Also, SLPs reported completing language sample transcription and analysis in real time while interacting with a child.

Conclusions School-based SLPs appear to rely on the results from standardized testing when determining treatment eligibility for children with language impairment. The reliance on standardized testing appears to be driven by institutional policies. We discuss the potential impact of federal/state/district guidelines on diagnostic decisions and consider the research-to-practice gap.

Acknowledgments
The authors would like to acknowledge all of the speech-language pathologists who took the time to participate in this study. The authors especially thank the students who helped with transcription, coding, and analysis for this project. The authors would like to acknowledge Marissa Tomczak, Kearstin Derrenbacher, Lynne Harris, Jaimie Harris, Sarah DeCock, Hibernia Hernandez, Emily Donals, Colleen Garvin, Tyler Brown, Emily Ackles, Marissa Michalski, Emmanuel Guzman, and Heidi Gawron.
Order a Subscription
Pay Per View
Entire American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology content & archive
24-hour access
This Article
24-hour access