May 18, 2016

Sound Start Study symposium at Speech Pathology Australia 2016

The Sound Start Study, our Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (DP1030102545) is coming to a close, so it was a privilege to present five papers within a symposium session to share some of our findings.
  • L-R: Elise Baker, Sarah Masso, Pam Enderby (keynote speaker at the conference),
    Kate Crowe, Charlotte Howland, Sharynne McLeod
Here is the abstract from the first paper in the symposium
Speech sound disorders (SSD) affect many Australian preschoolers and if it persists into the school years between 30% to 77% will have reading difficulties. Without support services, these children face increased risk of life-long social, educational, occupational limitations; however, demand for speech pathology services exceeds supply. The Sound Start Study was designed to determine if the Phoneme Factory Sound Sorter (PFSS) (Wren & Roulstone, 2013) computer software can be used enhance preschoolers' speech and pre-literacy skills. The Sound Start Study was conducted in 6 stages per year, repeated over 3 years. In stage 1, 1205 children were screened via parent and teacher questionnaire. In stage 2, children whose parents and teachers had concerns about speech were assessed (n = 275). In stage 3, children who had a phonological impairment with no known cause (n = 133) underwent additional assessment of their speech, pre-literacy and phonological processing skills. In stage 4, 123 children were eligible and randomized into a control group or intervention group. The intervention group received PFSS administered by preschool staff over 9 weeks. This innovative computer program was designed using a psycholinguistic framework to target children's perception and representations of their phonological patterns via phonemic awareness tasks. In stages 5 and 6, children were re-assessed by speech pathologists blinded to the first assessment and intervention condition. These immediate and 3-month post-intervention assessments were undertaken to determine whether the intervention improved the children’s speech and pre-literacy skills.  
Here are the titles of our presentations:

  • Randomised controlled trial of software to enhance preschoolers' speech and pre-literacy skills (Presenter - Sharynne McLeod)
  • Implementation of a computer-assisted intervention for children with speech sound disorders in Australian preschools (Presenter - Kate Crowe)
  • The print knowledge of preschool children with speech sound disorders before and after intervention targetting speech and pre-literacy abilities (Presenter - Elise Baker)
  • The relationship between polysyllable production and emergent literacy in preschool-aged children with speech sound disorders (Presenter - Sarah Masso) 
  • Realization of grammatical morphemes by children with speech sound disorders (Presenter - Charlotte Howland)
We were very pleased with the large number of people in the audience and the number of people who have commented, asked questions, and contacted us about our work after the presentation. More information about all of our presentations at SPA 2016 is here and information about Charlotte's award is here.