Masso, S., McLeod, S., Baker, E., McCormack, J., & Wang, C. (2016, December). Changes in polysyllable speech accuracy of children with speech sound disorders. Poster presentation to Australasian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology, Parramatta, Australia.
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Polysyllables are words of three or more syllables. Children with speech sound disorders (SSD) find polysyllables difficult to say and poor polysyllable production may be one marker to identify children at risk of literacy difficulties . Although longitudinal studies are valuable to describe progressions of speech development in children with SSD, no studies have explored progressions in polysyllable development in children with SSD. A longitudinal study of polysyllables is required to determine the factors that impact children’s polysyllable maturity in the year before school.
1. To determine changes in consonant and vowel accuracy in polysyllables produced by children with SSD over time.
2. To identify child and family factors that may be associated with the progression of children’s polysyllable maturity.
Eighty children (50 male) with SSD (aged 4;0-5;4) who were participants of a community-based cluster randomized controlled trial were the participants for this study. All children had delayed phonological development based on the Diagnostic Evaluation of Articulation and Phonology, typical nonverbal intelligence, and no significant medical history. Children produced the 30 polysyllables of the Polysyllable Preschool Test at three time points (over 14-22 weeks) in the year before school. Percentage of consonants correct (PCC), percentage of vowels correct (PVC), and the seven categories of the Word-level Analysis of Polysyllables (WAP) were calculated. Polysyllable maturity was analysed using the Framework of Polysyllable Maturity and children’s polysyllable maturity was classified in to one of five maturity levels (Levels A-E). For example, Level A was characterized by high frequency of deletion errors, alterations in phonotactics, and alterations in timing. Repeated measures ANOVA was used to determine changes in PCC and PVC over time. Binary logistic regression was used to identify child and family factors associated with whether children’s polysyllable maturity improved over time.
A model considering age, sex, receptive vocabulary, and starting level of polysyllable maturity (child factors), and SES and family history of speech, language, and literacy difficulties (family factors) significantly predicted whether children improved their polysyllable maturity over time χ2 (8) =24.62, p=.002. Family history and polysyllable maturity at time 1 were significant predictors of whether children improved polysyllable maturity over time. Children in the second lowest level of polysyllable maturity (Level B) were 11.87 times more likely to improve than children who demonstrated the least mature polysyllables (Level A) at time 1.
Children with SSD do demonstrate improved segmental accuracy (PCC and PVC) over time in the year before school. However, when considering polysyllable maturity, some children are less likely to improve. Specifically, children who realise all the syllables in polysyllabic words are more likely to improve than those children who have a high frequency of vowel deletions. This research provides empirical evidence for the use of polysyllables in assessment to identify children who may be at greatest risk of having ongoing difficulties saying polysyllables over time. Considering the possible relationship between polysyllable accuracy and risk of literacy difficulties, it is important to identify these children and provide effective early intervention for speech and emergent literacy.