In the late 1980's I was studying to be a speech pathologist in London where I was taught by Hazel Dewart and Susie Summers. At around this same time, Hazel and Susie were creating a new style of assessment that involved more than just testing the communication skills shown by children who came to the clinic.
Their goal was to interview communication partners and find out how the children were using their communication skills in a range of everyday environments. In their manual they wrote
"Research has recently focused on an area often ignored in the past; that of pragmatics, which is the study of language in its context of use. A pragmatic approach offers a perspective on child language that emphasises how communication is achieved. It considers how language is used to communicate a variety of intentions, to relate to the communication needs of the listener and to participate in conversation and connected discourse"
They cited work by Lund and Duchan who said
‘We predict that this pragmatics approach will not be just another addition to our evaluation techniques but that it will shake the very foundations of how we have been approaching children with language problems. Our notion that we can examine children’s language by presenting them with controlled stimuli, such as sentences to imitate or formal tests, will come into question. Our idea that language in the clinic is the same as language outside the clinic will be suspect. Our hope that we can measure a child’s language ability in one context in a two-hour diagnostic session will be demolished as results from the research in pragmatics become known to us’.
It is now almost thirty years since the Pragmatics Profile was created and we are excited to share our two updated versions wth you. The first has a focus on children and adults with a disability and the second has a focus on traumatic brain injury.
This work is a tribute to Hazel and Susie and all those who have used their original assessment tool. It continues to be one of the most popular assessment tools even though it has long been out of print. We have updated the form and consulted with experts in the field to create a new version for the 21st century. It is available freely here in an online format.