Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Building Self-Esteem of Children and Adolescents with Communication Disorders

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Building Self-Esteem of Children and Adolescents with Communication Disorders

Article excerpt

According to Hedge (1991), communication disorders are the second highest handicapping condition of school-age children. Because communication is important to both academic achievement and success in personal interactions, having a communication disorder can be devastating for a school-age child and / or adolescent. In fact, several self-esteem research studies have shown that children with communication disorders tend to have lower self-concepts (Drummond, 1976), which impact the type and number of social interactions that they engage in (Brinton & Fujiki, 1993).

The Department of Educations Division of Special Education Programs for the Commonwealth of Virginia published a monograph (1985) to use as a guide for developing guidance and counseling programs. It recognizes that students with speech and language impairments may experience social isolation and be penalized because of their handicaps. As a result, the monograph suggests that it is appropriate for counselors to work closely with speech-language pathologists who can identify the specific speech and language disorder, give a prognosis, and suggest specific ways to work with students (p. 17). It also suggests that the counselor provide individual counseling as well as group counseling to students with speech and language impairments who have poor self-concepts.

Communication is a dynamic process that individuals use to exchange ideas, relate experiences, and share desires through speaking, writing, gestures, or sign language. If a person has difficulty comprehending information or transmitting messages in a manner that is acceptable to the communities' standards, she or he may have a communication disorder. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) (1994), 42 million people in the United States have some type of hearing loss or communication disorder. Of these people, 14 million have either a speech, language, or voice disorder, and 28 million have a hearing impairment. In school-age populations, it is estimated that 10% to 15% of preschoolers and 6% of school-age children (in grades 1-12) have speech disorders, 2% to 3% of preschoolers and 1% of school age children have language disorders, and 2.1% of children under 18 years have some degree of hearing loss (ASHA, 1994).

Understanding Communication Disorders

A Brief Overview

In its 15th annual report to Congress, the United States Department of Education reported that 4,505,488 children with disabilities (1,000,671 with speech impairments, and 60,763 with hearing impairments), ages 6-21, were served in the public schools under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) during the 1991-1992 school year (ASHA, 1994). With such a large number of children receiving speech, language, and / or hearing services in the schools, it is imperative that teachers, counselors, psychologists, administrators, and others understand and recognize different types of communication disorders. They must understand the effects the disorders may have on a school-age child's or adolescent's social-emotional behavior in order to make appropriate referrals. In focusing on the direct or indirect impact of communication disorders of children and adolescents, it is imperative to be cognizant of the influence of cultural diversity. A review of the special education and rehabilitation literature reveals the significant influence that culture can make and that school counselors need to be culturally competent and sensitive when providing counseling services. The purpose of this paper is to describe how communication disorders affect social interactions in school-age children and adolescents and to offer school counselors some suggested activities so they can assist children and adolescents with communication and language disorders and build self-esteem.

Classifications of Communication Disorders

According to Hedge (1991), communication disorders can be classified by etiology, age of onset, and the components of communication. …

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