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Child Care Health Dev. 2010 Nov;36(6):878-87. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2010.01093.x.

Predictors of parents seeking help or advice about children's communication development in the early years.

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Department of Paediatrics, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia.



Children's access to services for communication disorders is often determined by parental decisions to seek help or advice. The factors that predict whether parents seek help/advice about their child's communication development were explored in this study.


Parents of children in a large, community cohort of children (the Early Language in Victoria Study) were asked whether they had sought help or advice about speech and language development at 1, 2, 3 and 4 years. Child, family and environmental variables, as well as parental concern and children's communication status, were used to predict help/advice seeking. The communication abilities of those in the help-seeking group were also evaluated.


Gender, age, children's communication status and parental concern were consistent predictors of help/advice seeking. Significant over and under-identification was evident, and there was preliminary evidence that children with overt communication difficulties (such as unintelligible speech) were more likely to receive help.


Parental support and education, as well as education of professionals who regularly have contact with young children, is necessary to support appropriate early identification of communication problems. Further research into service level factors such as availability and accessibility which may support or inhibit help/advice seeking is also indicated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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