Parents and teachers of speech/language-impaired preschool children: Perceptions of behavioral adaptation and related stress

Athena Anne Drewes, Pace University


Research shows that parent and teacher ratings of problem behaviors during the early years of development and school consistently predict a variety of adjustment problems in adolescence or adulthood. Children with persistent speech and language problems are particularly susceptible to behavioral and psychiatric problems. In addition, both the impairment and concomitant behavioral problems can be stressful for the family. Early intervention offers the opportunity to eliminate or reduce maladaptive behaviors and to improve family patterns of interaction. This study examined whether speech/language-impaired preschool children were perceived by parents and teachers as having significantly more behavioral problems than nonimpaired preschoolers. The associated parental stress was also examined. The sample consisted of 64 parents of 33 special education speech/language-impaired three and four year olds, 55 parents of 31 nonimpaired preschoolers, and four teachers. The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and an adjacent 5-point Likert-type stress scale identified problem behaviors and associated stress. Overall parental level of anxiety and proneness to stress was measured by the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Data was assessed using ANOVA and correlational analyses. Results revealed that parents of impaired preschoolers perceived significantly $(p<.05)$ more behavioral problems than the comparison group. In particular, problems associated with Social Withdrawal items were most problematic $(p<.05).$ However, the parents of the impaired group did not evidence significantly more stress than the comparison group. Mothers of both groups reported significantly $(p<.01)$ more stress than the fathers. Fathers of both groups were most stressed by Social Withdrawal items $(p<.05)$ while mothers reacted to Aggressive items $(p<.05).$ There was significant finding for level of impairment and behaviors or stress. Teachers of the impaired preschoolers reported significantly $(p<.001)$ more behavioral problems than the nonimpaired group. One important implication of this study is that speech/language-disordered preschoolers may be at risk for future behavioral problems. Oftentimes speech/language impairments are more readily identified at the preschool level than behavioral difficulties; even though both issues are important to address for school success. Joint strategies between the speech therapist and clinicians are needed to assist parents in dealing with their child's behaviors as well as with their speech/language difficulties.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Developmental psychology|Speech therapy|Special education

Recommended Citation

Drewes, Athena Anne, "Parents and teachers of speech/language-impaired preschool children: Perceptions of behavioral adaptation and related stress" (1992). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9230319.



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