In the realm of speech and language development, social inequalities play a pivotal role, a theme explored thoroughly by Mélissa Di Sante and Louise Potvin in their paper, We Need to Talk About Social Inequalities in Language Development. Their work delves into the substantial impact social determinants can have on the language development of children, urging Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) to broaden their understanding and approach towards mitigating these disparities.
The paper underscores the essence of aligning empirical evidence with theoretical foundations from public health to unravel the roots and distribution of these social inequalities in language development among children. A notable model introduced in their discourse is the Total Environment Assessment Model for Early Child Development, which aids in understanding the social determinants affecting early child development, particularly in the context of early language development. This model, along with other theoretical notions, empowers SLPs to reflect on actions targeting the social determinants of language, urging a shift towards viewing language interventions and outcomes as “events in systems”.
Furthermore, Di Sante and Potvin advocate for a public health-inspired approach to language interventions. They invite institutions and SLPs to refocus their attention on the social determinants of language, urging a broadening of the scope of actions encompassed in both individual and group interventions aimed at nurturing language development in children.
Their paper is a compelling call to action, emphasizing the critical need for an interdisciplinary approach in addressing the social inequalities impacting language development, and urging professionals in the field to adopt a more holistic, socially-informed perspective in their practice.