Parents are experts on their child’s communication development. Asking parents to report on which words their child says and/or understands has been shown to be a reliable way to measure communication development, for children under 3 years. In recent research, we have created a short practical version of the Australian English Communicative Development Inventory, an existing MacArthur-Bates communication checklist. We call this the OZI-SF, for short.
The OZI-SF is an online checklist for parents of Australian children aged 12-30 months. The checklist includes 100 words of spoken vocabulary – a snapshot of words which children tend to learn at this age. Additionally, the checklist includes 12 gestures, and 6 games/routines, to measure early non-verbal communication.
The OZI-SF takes on average 12 minutes to complete. The data are stored anonymously (without names), as approved by the WSU human research ethics committee. The OZI-SF is user-friendly; a parent can complete it on their own, or in conversation with an early childhood educator, GP or speech pathologist. Parents report if the child says each item in any language, so it is suited to bilingual or multilingual families.
Communication development in infancy is important for a child’s future. Studies have shown that a child’s vocabulary at around 2 years of age can predict linguistic and cognitive skills, literacy achievement, maths achievement, verbal memory and self-regulation years later. Additionally, if a child needs extra support in their communication development, earlier intervention is more beneficial.
At the end of the survey, the parent is sent a report about their child’s communication. Although the OZI-SF can’t be used to give a diagnosis, the report is a great tool for parents and carers to take along to a speech pathologist or GP to start a conversation about a child’s communicative development. The OZI-SF can also be taken multiple times per child, so it can be a great way to track and celebrate a child’s development as they grow!
If you have any concerns about your child’s communication, please see your Child and Family Health Nurse or doctor. You can take a copy of the OZI-SF with you, and/or complete the checklist in your child's Personal Health Record (e.g. your 'blue book' in NSW).
Images by Alexies Adao
Thankyou to everyone who tuned in to our WSU BabyLab webinar on the 24th of June 2020, on our new short early communication checklist, the OZI-SF.
In case you missed it or would like to share with friends here is the 30-min video recording.