South Africa is a developing country and children in South Africa are at a high risk for developing communication disorders with more than 10% of children under three likely to have communication disorders. The ideal is to prevent as many of these communication disorders as possible. This requires the identification of factors within specific communities which may increase the risk for or resilience against developing communication disorders. Providing information on communication development is a form of primary prevention which has proven to be highly successful. There is a continuum of communities in the South African context that range from the developing to the developed and at each level parents have specific requirements regarding the need for information on communication development. Considering the large number of South African infants who are at risk for developing communication disorders and in recognition of the many different communities in the South African context, the need for prevention tools which are developed to meet the needs of specific communities, becomes apparent. This study aimed to develop a tool for parents of a specific South African community, identified as Pretoria East, for the stimulation of communication skills in infants that is valid in terms of content and is judged by parents to be practical and empowering. In order to achieve this aim three phases of research were planned. Phase one aimed to identify the needs of parents and professionals in terms of the informational content and format of a tool for the stimulation of communication in infants. Phase two aimed to develop a tool for the stimulation of communication in infants based on the needs and preferences expressed by parents and professionals, the active involvement of parents from the community in focus group discussions as well as on sound theoretical underpinnings of infant development. Phase three aimed to validate the tool by determining whether the tool fulfilled the needs of parents in terms of informational content and format. The results of this research indicated that a need was identified in parents and professionals alike for a tool for parents on the stimulation of communication skills in infants. A video was indicated as the most popular choice of format. The content of the stimulation tool which was developed in phase two reflected the needs and preferences of the community and included the following topics, namely: discussions and demonstrations on the normal development of communication skills in infants, techniques that would facilitate normal development, risk factors and resilience factors which may influence communication development as well as information on locating a professional. In phase three parents from the community evaluated the video tool as practical and empowering, therefore achieving the main objective of the research. This research highlighted the need within a specific community for information on the facilitation of communication development in young children, implying the need for further research in order to determine the needs of other South African communities. Recommendations were also made regarding the need for speech-language therapists to increase their involvement in prevention initiatives and community work.
Thesis (PhD (Communication Pathology))--University of Pretoria, 2005.