Pausing mid-sentence: An ecological model approach to language disorder and lived experience of young male offenders
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Fitzsimons, D. & Clark, A. (2021) Pausing mid-sentence: An ecological model approach to language disorder and lived experience of young male offenders. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(3):1225.
International research evidence has firmly established a high prevalence of language disorder in young offender populations. Less is known about young offenders’ perspectives on their own language abilities. The study recruited an opportunity sample of 10 young men in custody at a Scottish youth offending institution who had recent experience of segregation. This mixed-methods study investigated participants’ views on their language and communication abilities to inform future support and intervention, and formal language assessment was also administered to investigate indicative prevalence of language disorder within the sample. It fo-cused on their communication with professionals and peers in justice, education and welfare set-tings. Results of standardised language assessment indicated the presence of language disorder in 44% (n = 4) of the sample (n = 9). Thematic analysis of interview data led to formulation of three themes: Valuing Communication, Literacy and Learning; Exerting Control; and Seeking Support. The first theme is discussed with reference to Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Model. Participants offered reflective and rich views on their lived experience. They provided perspectives on features of successful interaction with peers and authority figures, importance of effective communication and the difficulties they encountered. This study argues for additional communication support for young people in the justice system.