Original Research

The development of a neonatal communication intervention tool

Esedra Strasheim, Alta Kritzinger, Brenda Louw
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 58, No 1 | a37 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v58i1.37 | © 2011 Esedra Strasheim, Alta Kritzinger, Brenda Louw | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 February 2011 | Published: 07 November 2011

About the author(s)

Esedra Strasheim, Department of Communication Pathology, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Alta Kritzinger, Department of Communication Pathology, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Brenda Louw, Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, East Tennessee State University, United States

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Neonatal communication intervention is important in South Africa, which has an increased prevalence of infants born with risks for disabilities and where the majority of infants live in poverty. Local literature showed a dearth of information on the current service delivery and roles of speech-language therapists (SLTs) and audiologists in neonatal nurseries in the South African context. SLTs have the opportunity to provide the earliest intervention, provided that intervention is well-timed in the neonatal nursery context. The aim of the research was to compile a locally relevant neonatal communication intervention instrument/tool for use by SLTs in neonatal nurseries of public hospitals. The study entailed descriptive, exploratory research. During phase 1, a survey was received from 39 SLTs and 2 audiologists in six provinces. The data revealed that participants performed different roles in neonatal nurseries, which depended on the environment, tools, materials and instrumentation available to them. Many participants were inexperienced, but resourceful in their attempts to adapt tools/materials. Participants expressed needs for culturally appropriate and user-friendly instruments for parent guidance and staff/team training on the topic of developmental care. During phase 2, a tool for parent guidance titled Neonatal communication intervention programme for parents was compiled in English and isiZulu. The programme was piloted by three participants. Suggestions for enhancements of the programme were made, such as providing a glossary of terms, adapting the programme’s language and terminology, and providing more illustrations. SLTs and audiologists must contribute to neonatal care of high-risk infants to facilitate development and to support families.


developmental care, early communication intervention, neonatal communication intervention, neonatal nursery, public health context


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