December 23, 2011

Toddlers' speech perception

I was interviewed by ABC Science online yesterday about an interesting new study that has examined adults, 2- and 4-year-olds' abilities to change their vowel productions based on how they perceived their own speech output. The participants were asked to say "bed"; however, their speech was manipulated so that they heard themselves saying "bad". The adults and 4-year-olds changed their articulation of the vowel in accordance with the feedback, the 2-year-olds did not. More details are here

December 17, 2011

Factors that enhance Australian speech-language pathologists’ assessment of the speech of Cantonese-speaking children

Rebekah Lockart has finished her Masters thesis titled: Factors that enhance Australian speech-language pathologists’ assessment of the speech of Cantonese-speaking children. It has been an honour to supervise her project as part of her Master of Speech and Language Pathology in the Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics at Macquarie University, Sydney. Here is her thesis abstract:

The aim of this study was to investigate the ability of 33 Australian speech-language pathology (SLP) students to identify and transcribe typical and atypical speech in a nonnative language. Participants completed 3 tasks in an experimental within subjects design. Task 1 involved transcription of 5 English words to provide a baseline of their transcription skills. In Task 2 participants transcribed a typical Cantonese-speaking adult from an audio recording of 25 words from the Hong Kong Cantonese Articulation Test (HKCAT). The listeners transcribed an average of 59.1% consonants correctly. The participants’ average score was increased to 72.9% when a transcription scoring system was applied (2=exact match, 1=common transfer pattern, 0=incorrect). In Task 3 participants were presented with 100 audio-visual recordings of Cantonese-speaking children producing words from the HKCAT and a phonetic transcription of each word. Participants identified consonant speech sound errors and transcribed each word under 4 additive conditions: 1) baseline, 2) +recording of an adult model, 3) +information about the Cantonese phonological system, 4) all variables. In Condition 1 participants accurately identified an average of 63.8% of children’s whole word productions as correct or incorrect. Participants achieved an average transcription score of 71.2%. The accuracy of speech sound error identification and transcription was significantly improved by the provision of information about the Cantonese phonological system (69.2%, 76.1%), and further enhanced by a recording of an adult model (71.6%, 76.1%), and addition of both factors (72.8%, 79.8%). Accuracy was influenced by broad transcription skill and proficiency in LOTEs, but not by musicality or confidence in working with multilingual clients. These results indicate SLP students, with no exposure to or specific training in Cantonese, have some ability to transcribe the speech of Cantonese-speaking adults and children and identify speech sound errors made by Cantonese-speaking children.

December 16, 2011

Reviewing published and unpublished speech assessments

Over the past week, Nicole Limbrick has visited Bathurst. Jane McCormack and I are supervising her honours dissertation titled: Designs and decisions: The creation and use of informal criterion-referenced measures for assessing children with speech impairment. During the week we finalized the criteria for critiquing conceptual and operational features of speech assessments, then coded informal measures and published tests in English and other languages. We realized just how complex the task of creating a robust, valid and reliable assessment is. So often we as speech pathologists head straight for the stimulus pictures, score form, and norms, almost discarding the examiner's manual. This week has highlighted the importance of interrogating the design of the assessment measures we use to ensure the integrity of the assessments undertaken with children. It has also highlighted the innovation amongst our professional community for creating assessment measures to address gaps where there are no suitable tools available. Nicole will present some of the findings of her research at the Speech Pathology Australia National Conference in Hobart next year.
Nicole Limbrick and Sharynne at Allen House in Bathurst

December 13, 2011

October - December 2011 summary

‘Speaking my language: International speech acquisition in Australia’
Written by Kim Woodland, Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education for the December 2011 RIPPLE Update

Sharynne has been busy finalising two books: ‘Multilingual aspects of speech sound disorders in children’ (edited with Brian Goldstein); and ‘Listening to children and young people with speech language and communication needs’ (edited with Sue Roulstone). She also travelled to San Diego in November to meet with colleagues to conduct a content analysis of the common and unique ingredients that make up 15 interventions for children with speech sound disorders. This information will assist in building a framework to support speech-language pathologists, educators, and researchers. Sharynne then attended the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Convention in San Diego where she coordinated two invited sessions, and co-presented four papers. There were over 12,000 delegates attending the Convention. In early December, Sharynne co-presented a paper at a Symposium hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the University of Sydney (‘World Report on Disability: Implications for Asia and the Pacific’). The paper Sharynne presented, along with Linda Harrison, Jane McCormack, and Lindy McAllister, addressed two recommendations from the World Report on Disability: improving disability data collection; and strengthening and supporting research on disability. For more information on Sharynne’s research, please visit her blog, Speaking my languages.
Klaire, Ann Smit, Martin Ball, Peter Flipsen Jnr, Elise Baker, & Sharynne at ASHA

December 8, 2011

World Report on Disability - World Health Organization symposium

On 5-6 December I attended the a symposium hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and The University of Sydney titled: World Report on Disability: Implications for Asia and the Pacific.

Alana Officer, the executive editor of the World Report on Disability summarized the 9 major "cross cutting recommendations" of the report as:
  1. "Enable access to all mainstream policies, systems and services
  2. Invest in specific programmes and services for persons with disabilities
  3. Adopt a national disability strategy and plan of action
  4. Involve people with disabilities
  5. Improve human resource capacity
  6. Provide adequate funding and improve affordability
  7. Increase public awareness and understanding of disability
  8. Improve disability data collection
  9. Strengthen and support research on disability"
My colleagues and I presented the following paper that specifically related to recommendations 8 and 9:
  • McLeod, S., Harrison, L. J., McCormack, J. & McAllister, L. (2011, December). Prevalence, risk, impact, and unmet need of children with speech and language impairment in Australia
More information about the symposium is here
More information about the World Report on Disability is here
Video presentations from the symposium are here
Powerpoint presentations from the symposium are here

Prof Sally Hartley, Sharynne, Prof Lindy McAllister

Assessment and intervention for Vietnamese children with speech sound disorder

Today I spoke with (Skyped) two groups of students and their lecturer Janella Christie from Pham Ngoc Thach University in Ho Chi Minh City about their final year projects. These two groups of students have chosen to continue work that we discussed during their lectures in May. One group has analyzed retrospective data of 57 children with speech sound disorders to identify common phonological patterns and is aiming to develop minimal pairs intervention resources for Vietnamese. The other group is creating a new assessment to use for all children in their hospital. They will be assessing preschool children and conducting in-depth analyses of these children's phonological skills. It is exciting to see that these students are committed to resourcing the new speech therapy profession in Vietnam. I anticipate that their resources will be useful for working with Vietnamese children throughout the world as well.