SPCHSCI 722 : Communication Difficulties in Children


2022 Semester Two (1225) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

The nature of speech and language delay and disorder in children. Introduces a range of disorders focussing on: general language impairment, specific language impairment (SLI) and phonological disorders in children through pre-school and primary school ages, and language disorders in adolescence. Assessment and intervention in phonology, articulation, and all aspects of language, incorporating principles of inclusion and diversity and evidence-based practices.

Course Overview

This course is your initial nuts and bolts about how to deal with speech and language difficulties in children (note that the title “Communication Difficulties” does not include stuttering or voice disorders).
Speech and language (communication) difficulties in children is the largest single caseload for Speech Language Therapy overall.  As such, SpchSci722 can only be an initial foray into these areas. The whole is a very large body of knowledge, and your learning  will continue the whole of your professional life. 

SpchSci722 will deal with speech and language difficulties in children from the early verbal stage through primary school stages. Pre-verbal and adolescent stages are covered in SpchSci743 in the second year of the MSLT(Prac). However, what you cover in SpchSci722 will also be applicable then.

This course builds on the knowledge and skills you gained in SpchSci711. Your understanding of the breadth of  human communication and your beginning skills in how to analyse these are both foundational to SpchSci722. Your grasp of phonetics and phonology from SpchSci712, as well as other aspects of Linguistics, will also be assumed. 

The course continues to integrate Te Reo and Tikanga Maori into daily work as part of our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. 
The course will have you investigate the evidence base for interventions in child speech and language difficulties.  

In summary, these are the questions that this course is meant to answer:
• How do I look for strengths and difficulties in children’s communication?
• How do I carry out assessments, and interpret the data I gather?
• How do I work these interpretations into a schema that makes sense, that shows me the what this child needs to achieve (i.e. how do I find the goals and work out how they fit together)?
• How do I achieve these goals (i.e., how do I teach these communication skills to children) ?

Course Requirements

Prerequisite: SPCHSCI 711

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Explain the nature of speech and language disorders (developmental language disorders in children) (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  2. Understand and apply the principles and practices of assessment of speech and language in children (Capability 1, 2 and 3)
  3. Interpret a wide range of data on a child's communication skills, environment, needs, and attitudes of those around them, to decide on priorities and goals for intervention (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 4)
  4. Understand and explain the principles of speech and language intervention in children, including learning theories (Capability 1, 2, 3 and 4)
  5. Apply methods and goals of intervention of speech and language in preschool and primary school-aged children to make a coherent programme (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6)
  6. Consistently demonstrate and reflect upon cultural issues and te Tiriti o Waitangi applied to all parts of this area of professional knowledge and practice (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Assignment: Speech Difficulties 25% Individual Coursework
Quizzes: best 8 of 10 25% Individual Coursework
Assignment: Assessment of communication disorders in children 25% Individual Coursework
Assignment: Intervention with communication disorders in children 25% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Assignment: Speech Difficulties
Quizzes: best 8 of 10
Assignment: Assessment of communication disorders in children
Assignment: Intervention with communication disorders in children


This course is supported by the Tuākana in Science Programme, which facilitates the success and wellbeing of our Māori and Pacific students. The foundation of the Tuākana Programme is the Tuākana-Teina principle an integral relationship in which older or more expert Tuākana (traditionally brother, sister or cousin) guides a younger or less expert Teina (traditionally younger sibling or cousin). This is a reciprocal relationship which fosters safe learning and teaching environments. Read more here:

Special Requirements

There are no special requirements for this course.

Workload Expectations

This course is a 15 point course and students are expected to spend 15-20 hours per week involved in work for it.

You can expect 3-5 hours of kanohi ki te kanohi classes, 3-5 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 3-5 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation per week. This may not spread evenly for you, but it is recommended that you try to maintain something close to this, to prevent  loading yourself up when assignments are due.  There may also be some remote sessions via Zoom. 

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is required at scheduled classes to complete all components of the course.
Classes will be available as recordings. Classes will involve formal teaching, activities (tutorial style) or discussion, and will usually involve all three to varying degrees. Recording will be turned off for discussions and may also be for class activities, during which recordings are often not helpful.
The course may include a small number of live online events.
The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable. 

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

  1. Paul, Rhea; Norbury, Courtenay & Gosse, Carolyn (2018). Language disorders from infancy through adolescence: listening, speaking, reading, writing, and communicating. (5th ed). St Louis: Elseveier. ISBN 978-0-323-07174-0. Philson library  Short Loan (2 hour) 618.92855 P32L 2018. Also available online (see library).
This textbook is a strong foundation for language assessment and intervention with children, and many SLTs out in the field still regularly use it. 

2.  Bowen, Caroline. (2015) (ed). Children's speech sound disorders (2nd ed). Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN: 978-1-118-63402-8. Philson library Short Loan (2 hour) (618.92855 B78). May also be available online.

This textbook is a strong foundation for speech assessment and intervention with children. An alternative, but more complex book is  McLeod, Sharynne. & Baker, Elise. (2017) Children’s Speech: An evidence-based approach to Assessment and Intervention. Boston: Pearson. 

3. Ukrainetz, Teresa A. (ed)., Contextualized Language Intervention : Scaffolding PreK-12 Literacy Achievement. Eau Claire, Wis.: Thinking Publications, 2006. Philson library Main Collection WL340.2 U35 2006 . 

This textbook is a valuable set of very practical evidence-based interventions for a wide range of  language difficulties with a focus on oral language skills that contribute to successful schooling for children. 

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website http://disability.auckland.ac.nz

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/academic-information/exams-and-final-results/during-exams/aegrotat-and-compassionate-consideration.html.

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

You are encouraged to come to the teaching staff and discuss your progress and any issues you may have with it earlier rather than later.  This MSLT(Prac) course is demanding, and we recognise it does not allow much space for anything going wrong for you. It is normal for things to go wrong from time to time, so do manage it with our help, as much as possible. We want to see you succeed.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

The delivery mode may change depending on COVID restrictions. Any changes will be communicated through Canvas.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/students/forms-policies-and-guidelines/student-policies-and-guidelines/student-charter.html.


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 11/11/2021 10:55 a.m.