BSc Speech and Language Therapy / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Lifelong Disability B

Course unit fact file
Unit code PCHN30211
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Full year
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course unit runs throughout the third (final) year of study with the principal content forming the second part of the Lifelong Disabilities theme within the programme (Part A sits in Year 2).

We will consider learning disability which persists beyond the developmental period and into adulthood. Within this core part of the unit, a case-based approach to learning is used. Students are encouraged to see the therapist as one who looks not only at intrinsic factors affecting the individual's communication and/or swallowing skills, but also at extrinsic factors. Thus, within a social model of disability, the disabling barriers to successful communication are explored and we look at the SLT role in facilitating a successful, enabling communication environment. With a client group who have extremely varied and complex needs, born of lifelong disability of neurological origin, students are required to draw upon and think critically about other areas of study. Following on from Lifelong Disability A in year 2, you will be invited to consider the implications of living with developmental disability into adulthood.


The unit aims to:

  • Provide students with opportunities to gain an insight into the kinds of complex needs which persist beyond the developmental period and into adulthood with a focus on two specific client groups (adults with learning disabilities and people who stammer).
  • Provide students with opportunities to consider the role of the SLT within a multidisciplinary and multi-agency team, as a facilitator of change within the communication environment as well as a specialist healthcare professional to offer direct assessment and specialist intervention around the individual's communication and/or swallowing difficulties.
  • Provide students with opportunities to explore their own and society's attitudes to adults with lifelong disabilities and children and adults who stammer.
  • Enable students to draw upon and think critically about other areas of study as applied to two specific client groups.

Learning outcomes

Students will be able to:

Knowledge and understanding

  • Appreciate the complexity of individual needs of adults who have learning disabilities.
  • Formulate an approach to assessment of the communication and swallowing needs of an adult client who has learning disability.
  • Apply the government policy documents and the RCSLT Position Paper to planned SLT support for people who have learning disabilities.
  • Distinguish clearly between pre-intentional and intentional communication, and implications for intervention.
  • Critically evaluate the suitability of augmentative communication support systems within a Total Communication approach.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the key principles of the theory, assessment and management of children, young people and adults who have disorders of fluency.
  • Identify and understand the key risk factors associated with persistent stammering.

Intellectual skills

  • Critically evaluate arguments, assumptions, abstract concepts and data (that may be incomplete), to make judgements, and to frame appropriate questions to achieve a solution - or identify a range of solutions - to a problem.
  • Synthesise, interpret and analyse a range of clinical data.
  • Create hypotheses based on reasoned conclusions from data provided.
  • Justify a particular approach taken, based on theoretical rationale and recognising the importance of evidence based practice.
  • Follow guidance from tutors in order to develop structured and wide reading around the complexity of lifelong disabilities and disorders of fluency.
  • Understand how the published literature can be applied to the assessment, treatment and evaluation process.
  • Make judicious use of online materials to support development of understanding of contemporary themes and campaigns regarding lifelong disabilities and disorders of fluency.
  • Be aware of the limits of their knowledge gained in undergraduate training and the additional training that is required to become a specialist therapist.
  • Reflect on and appreciate the impact of their own values, beliefs and personal biases towards people with dysfluency and people with LD.
  • Consider within clinical assessment the characteristics and consequences of barriers to inclusion for people with dysfluency and people with LD and actively challenge these barriers, supporting the implementation of change to enable more facilitative communication environments.

Practical skills

  • Use library, electronic and online resources effectively.
  • Engage with online learning materials.
  • Have an understanding of practical clinical strategies around the management of swallowing, eating and drinking in adults with learning disability.
  • Demonstrate skills necessary to participate in a practical stammering workshop.
  • Accurately record a sample of dysfluent speech and classify type and placement of dysfluency.
  • Demonstrate that your reflective practice and clinical decision making with these client groups have been informed by the values of equality, diversity and inclusion.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Independently gather and synthesise and critically evaluate material from various sources.
  • Work in a small team, exercising initiative and personal responsibility.
  • Appreciate the centrality of developing and maintaining effective working relationships, including effective functioning in a multi-disciplinary team.
  • Appreciate the need for decision-making in complex and unpredictable contexts.
  • Make use of current research by evaluating it and applying it in clinical practice.
  • Continue to engage in self-directed learning that will promote professional development.

Teaching and learning methods

Learning and teaching processes utilise a mixed modality delivery aligned to intended learning outcomes: lectures; accompanied by online-guided reading and class exercises; expert case presentations including problem-based learning.

There will be a 'Thinking Aloud' unfolding adult learning disability case study/video workshop and adult feeding and swallowing practical activities. Students will also have the opportunity to learn from service users.

Case based, specialist dysfluency workshops will be supported by on-line lecture podcasts to deliver theory and core principles.

To support independent study, learning materials including lecture slides and recommended reading will be provided on the unit's online Blackboard learning environment prior to sessions.

Assessment methods

  1. Adult learning disability written assignment (2500 words, 80%)
  2. Adult learning disability video based assignment (approx. 4 hours total)
  3. Fluency MCQ exam (1 hour, 20%)

Feedback methods

A summative mark and detailed, individual tutor written qualitative feedback will be provided following the adult learning disability written assignment.

Verbal tutor feedback and comment will be provided directly to students during dysfluency interactive workshops and on nature and quality of discussion in adult learning disability seminars.

Students will have the opportunity to access correct model answers following completion of the adult learning disability online quiz and satisfactory completion of the dysfluency online self-assessment. Students will receive feedback on their adult learning disability quiz performance before completing the summative assignment.

Throughout the unit, students will have the opportunity to self-evaluate their work and understanding against class discussion and tutor comment.

Recommended reading

Gates, B. (Ed) (2007) Learning Disabilities: towards inclusion (5th Ed). Churchill Livingstone.

Kelly, A. (2000) Working with Adults with a Learning Disability. Bicester: Winslow Press.

Van der Gaag, A and Dormandy, K (1993). Communication and Adults with Learning Disabilities, London.

Turnbull, J. & Stewart, T. (2007) Working with Dysfluent Children. Bicester: Speechmark.

Turnbull, J. & Stewart, T. (2017). The dysfluency resource book (Second edition.). Routledge.

Ward, D. (2006). Stuttering and cluttering : frameworks for understanding and treatment. Psychology Press.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 26
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 164

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Rachel Purcell Unit coordinator

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