Blog Archives

Perceiving onset clusters in infancy

By 9-months infants are sensitive to native-language sound combinations. Our studies show that while younger infants discriminate clusters, they are not sensitive to differences in statistical frequency. Thus, the emergence of phonotactic knowledge is driven by experience with the frequency of occurrence of the sound combinations in one’s language.

from Infant Behavior and Development

Prelinguistic vocal development and children with hearing loss who are acquiring Spanish

Prelinguistic vocal development is the process by which children begin to produce increasingly complex, phonetically diverse, and speech-like utterances before they say words on a regular basis. Despite its clinical interest, few studies have explored vocal development in very young children with hearing loss who are acquiring Spanish. This article represents an effort to fill this gap. In it, the reader will find a discussion of typical patterns of development in children from different language environments, with a special emphasis on Spanish. In addition, procedures for assessing vocal development through speech sampling and an intervention approach for children with delays in vocal development are presented. This information is intended to be of use for speech-language therapists, audiologists, and teachers of deaf children, and to encourage further research into the prelinguistic and early linguistic abilities of very young children with hearing losses who come from Spanish-speaking families.

from Revista de Logopedia, Foniatría y Audiología

Lip Movement Exaggerations During Infant-Directed Speech

Conclusion: The pattern of lip-shape exaggerations did not provide support for the hypothesis that mothers produce exemplar visual models of vowels during IDS. Future work is required to determine whether the observed increases in vertical lip aperture engender visual and acoustic enhancements that facilitate the early learning of speech.

from the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

Babbling, vegetative function, and language development after cricotracheal resection in aphonic children†‡§

The initial delay in speech acquisition observed following decannulation, along with the presence of a postsurgical canonical stage in all study subjects, supports the hypothesis that babbling is necessary for speech and language development. Furthermore, the presence of babbling is universally evident regardless of the age at which speech develops. Finally, there is no demonstrable correlation between preoperative sign language and rate of speech development.

from The Laryngoscope

Accuracy of Consonant–Vowel Syllables in Young Cochlear Implant Recipients and Hearing Children in the Single-Word Period

Conclusion: Differences in emergence of CV syllable accuracy arise from differences in auditory perception between the NH and CI groups.

from the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

Comparison of acoustic and kinematic approaches to measuring utterance-level speech variability

Purpose: The spatio-temporal index (STI) is one measure of variability. As currently implemented, kinematic data are used, requiring equipment that cannot be used with some patient groups or in scanners. An experiment is reported that addressed whether STI can be extended to an audio measure of sound pressure of the speech envelope over time, that did not need specialized equipment.

Method: STI indices of variability were obtained from lip track (L-STI) and amplitude envelope (E-STI) signals. These measures were made concurrent whilst either fluent speakers or speakers who stutter repeated “Buy Bobby a puppy” 20 times.

Results: L-STI and E-STI correlated significantly. STI reduced with age for both L-STI and E-STI. E-STI scores and L-STI scores discriminated successfully between fluent speakers and speakers who stutter.

Conclusion: The amplitude envelope over time STI scores can be used to obtain an STI score. This STI score can be used in situations where lip movement STI scores are precluded.

from the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

A comparative study of speech development between deaf children with cochlear implants who have been educated with spoken or spoken + sign language

To compare speech development following unilateral cochlear implant (CI) between a group of prelingually deaf children who have been educated exclusively using spoken language and another group who have used two languages (spoken and sign language).

A simple group quasi-experimental design was used with a control group.

The sample comprised 7 girls and 11 boys, aged between 4 and 8 years old, who received a CI between the ages of 15 months and 5 years old. The sample was divided into two groups, G1—bilingual and G2—spoken language. In both groups, aspects such as speech intelligibility, receptive vocabulary, psycho-linguistic skills, adaptive behaviour and behavioural problems were measured.

The children in Group 1 (bilingual) had better verbal and manual expression whereas those in Group 2 (spoken) achieved better results in terms of speech intelligibility, auditory reception and grammatical closure. These differences were confirmed statistically using Analysis of Variance. No significant differences were observed in relation to: receptive vocabulary, social and communicative skills, visual reception, auditory and visual association, visual closure and visual or auditory sequential memory.

The development of speech in these children is irrefutable; however, this study contributes a paradoxical element to the discussion: the bilingual group obtained better results in verbal fluency, hence these children should be able to evoke a greater number of words than those educated using just spoken language.

from the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology

The emergence of segmental accuracy in young cochlear implant recipients

from Cochlear Implants Internations

In the first steps toward intelligible speech, children must match sounds they can produce with salient word targets from their environment. Differences in auditory history between normal-hearing children (NH) and children receiving cochlear implants (CI) before the age of 24 months afford examination of the production system and auditory perceptual effects on the emergence of early segmental accuracy. Consonant and vowel inventories, accuracy and error patterns during the single-word period were examined in four NH and four CI children. NH and CI groups differed significantly on consonant accuracy, shifting from omissions to correct productions. Vowel productions improved from partially correct to correct. Both groups improved over time and showed similar patterns for segmental accuracy. Results suggest resilience of the production system to differences in auditory history. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Patented Nutritional Formula for Speech, “PharmaOmega Speak” Now in Production, Announces NourishLife


NourishLife announces the production of “PharmaOmega Speak,” a patented nutritional supplement designed to support normal speech and development. Developed by a pediatrician, the omega-3 / antioxidant-based formulation has shown promising results in children’s speech and coordination.

Long-term Trajectories of the Development of Speech Sound Production in Pediatric CochlearImplant Recipients

from the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research

Purpose: This study characterized the development of speech sound production in prelingually deaf children with a minimum of eight years of cochlear implant (CI) experience.

Method: Twenty-seven pediatric CI recipients’ spontaneous speech samples from annual evaluation sessions were phonemically transcribed. Accuracy for these speech samples was evaluated in piecewise regression models.

Results: As a group, pediatric CI recipients showed steady improvement in speech sound production following implantation, but the improvement rate declined after six years of device experience. Piecewise regression models indicated that the slope estimating the participants’ improvement rate was statistically greater than zero during the first six years post-implantation, but not after six years. The group of pediatric CI recipients’ accuracy of speech sound production after four years of device experience reasonably predicts their speech sound production after five to 10 years of device experience.

Conclusions: The development of speech sound production in prelingually deaf children stabilizes after six years of device experience, and typically approaches a plateau by eight years of device use. Early growth in speech before four years of device experience did not predict later rates of growth or levels of achievement. However, good predictions could be made after four years of device use.

Genetic and environmental influences on early speech, language and literacy development

from the Journal of Communication Disorders

The genetic and environmental etiology of speech and broader language skills was examined in terms of their concurrent relationships in young children; their longitudinal association with reading; and the role they play in defining the ‘heritable phenotype’ for specific language impairment (SLI). The work was based on a large sample of 4 1/2-year-old twins, who were assessed at home on a broad range of speech and language measures as part of the Twins Early Development Study. We found that genetic factors strongly influence variation in young children’s speech in typical development as well as in SLI, and that these genetic factors also account for much of the relationship between early speech and later reading. In contrast, shared environmental factors play a more dominant role for broader language skills, and in relating these skills to later reading; isolated impairments in language as opposed to speech appear to have largely environmental origins.

Variability in the Production of Words Containing Consonant Clusters by Typical 2- and 3-Year-Old Children

from Folia Phoniatrica et Logopaedica

Objective: Variability describes speech differences within individual children, as well as differences between children. Variability within children has been used as an indicator of speech impairment, so knowledge of typical children’s variability enhances clinicians’ diagnostic and prognostic decisions. This study aimed to describe the extent of variability within children in the production of consonant clusters. Patients and Methods: Sixteen typically developing children aged between 2 and 3 years were studied monthly for 6 months. Spontaneous speech samples were used to construct variability profiles for repeated productions of words containing consonant clusters. Results: Variability between and within individuals featured prominently. Half (53.7%, range 42.4-77.6%) of all the words that were repeated were produced variably. As the children became older, they increased the accuracy of their productions overall; however, variability between and within individuals continued to occur. Conclusion: If the speech of typically developing children is highly variable, then the extent and nature of variability must be defined when it is used as a diagnostic marker of speech impairment.

Early and later vocalization skills in children with and without cleft palate

from the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology

The purpose of this study was to describe the early vocalization skills in children with cleft lip and palate (CLP) at 6 and 12 months of age and compare these early vocalization measures to later speech and vocabulary development at 30 months of age.

The participants in the study included 13 children without cleft lip or palate (NCLP) who were typically developing and 13 children with CLP matched for age, gender and socioeconomic status. Standardized measures of cognition, language, hearing, and prelinguistic vocalization measures were administered at 6 and 12 months and speech production, and vocabulary measures were collected at 30 months of age.

Group differences were observed in both receptive and expressive language development at 12 and 30 months of age. Group differences were observed in the frequency of babbling and Mean Babbling Level at 12 months and speech sound accuracy and vocabulary production at 30 months of age. Significant correlation coefficients were observed between babbling frequency at 6 months and consonant inventory size, vocabulary at 30 months for the children with clefts and PCC-R for noncleft children.

This study documented that young children with clefts have persistent vocalization and vocabulary deficits well beyond palate closure. Measures of babbling frequency, Mean Babbling Level and consonant inventories provide clinically effective means of identifying these early deficits. Additionally, these measures may provide a tool for monitoring the effects of early intervention programs that promote facilitation of sound and vocabulary development.

Speech and language development in toddlers with and without cleft palate

from the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology

The effect of early palate closure on speech and language development in children with cleft palate.

Comparative study.

University Medical Center Groningen, Cleft Palate Team (The Netherlands).

Materials and methods
Forty-three toddlers with cleft palate and thirty-two toddlers without cleft palate were analyzed with standardized tests for language comprehension and language production. Moreover articulation and hyper nasality were examined by trained speech therapists.

For language comprehension, language production and articulation there were no significant differences between the children with and without cleft lip and/or palate. This is despite the high percentage of conductive hearing loss (55%) in children with clefts. Significant difference was found for hyper nasality (mean: 35% vs. 0%, p = 0.001). In both groups articulation problems raise to a higher percentage than language production problems (63–20%; 24–4%).

Early surgical treatment is effective for a part of the communicative development, i.e. language development and articulation. Besides conductive hearing loss hyper nasality remains a serious problem in 30–50% of the children with cleft palate. Therefore, speech therapy and pharyngoplasty also are part of the treatment procedure. Because of the high amount articulation problems in all children, standards for articulation development are perhaps too strict. Future research should be carried out after normal variations in articulation development.

Speech and language development in cri du chat syndrome: A critical review

from Clinical Linguistics and Phonetics

This article reviews research on speech and language abilities in people with cri du chat syndrome (CCS). CCS is a rare genetic disorder, with an estimated incidence between 1 in 15,000 and 1 in 50,000 births, resulting from a deletion on the short arm of chromosome 5. In general, individuals have delayed speech and language development, and some never develop spoken language. Their receptive language is better than their expressive language, although both are delayed. Regarding phonetics and phonology, substitutions, omissions, and distortions are frequent; consonant inventories are small; syllable shapes are restricted; and vowels are variable and overlap with each other acoustically. Persons with CCS have been found to inflect words from all major word classes. Little is known about syntactic skills, but some individuals are reported to express themselves in utterances of two or more words. Knowledge about speech and language development in CCS is sparse, and the need for more research is considerable.