Improving communication outcomes for young offenders: a proposed response to intervention framework Academic Article uri icon


  • Speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) are strongly overrepresented in young offender populations, and there is growing commitment internationally to ensuring access to speech-language therapy services for such young people. However there is currently no framework in which such interventions might be conceptualized, delivered and evaluated. This is significant given the role of language competence in the development of prosocial skills and also in the transition to literacy.To present Response to Intervention (RTI) as a framework in which SLCN of young offenders might be systematically addressed and evaluated within youth justice settings, led by speech-language therapists, in conjunction with other education and welfare team members.Literature regarding prevalence rates of SLCN in young offenders is reviewed, together with the limited extant evidence on interventions for this group. The importance of applying evidence-based interventions is argued, and a framework for adapting RTI for SLCN in custodial settings is outlined.A framework for adapting RTI to design, deliver and evaluate speech-language therapy interventions in youth custodial settings is presented.Speech-language therapy interventions for young offenders will be better addressed at policy, practice and research levels if a framework such as an RTI adaptation is employed. It is expected, however, that this model will evolve over time, as intervention evidence pertaining to the youth offender population emerges.


  • Snow, Pamela C
  • Sanger, Dixie D
  • Caire, Laura M
  • Eadie, Patricia A
  • Dinslage, Teagan

publication date

  • 2015

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