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R McIntire, and L Pilling Jefferson College of Population Health, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA


This secondary data analysis examined the types and severity of communication disorders (CD) in a sample of Syrian refugee children living in Bekaa, Lebanon. Over a period of 22 months, 161 cases of CD – not caused by movement or structural disorders – were seen at the Syrian American Medical Society Psychosocial Support Clinic. Ages ranged between 3-16 years with a mean of 6.91 (SD = 2.664). Male to female ratio was 1.6:1. The most prevalent category of CD was speech, followed by expressive language, then receptive language. Most children exhibited a combination of those impairments, but only a minority had severe deficiencies. Parents reported behavioral or emotional problems (BEP) in 43% of the cases. The top 3 BEP were anxiety (15%), poor communication (11%), and signs of PTSD (7%). Children with severe impairments and those with three-four types of CD were more likely to have BEP compared to the rest of the cohort. About one in three school-aged children with CD were not enrolled in school at the time of assessment. Enrollment in school was associated with a lesser number of impairments, while being out of school was associated with severe speech and language impairments. Evidence that CD exists among Syrian refugee children, signifies that it is imperative to implement strategic measures for prevention, screening, and treatment. Schools should be able to accommodate affected children and enhance their competencies. Moreover, curriculums must incorporate activities that enhance resilient behaviors and prevent/alleviate psychogenic CD and BEP. Teachers should be able to recognize CD and learning difficulties, and a method for reporting and referral must be developed. A highly-specialized team of professionals must be established to treat complex cases of CD. Finally, partnerships with training programs should be developed to increase the availability of speech and language pathology services in the refugee community.

Presentation: 16:27