Speech Sound Disorders in a Community Study of Preschool Children Purpose To undertake a community (nonclinical) study to describe the speech of preschool children who had been identified by parents/teachers as having difficulties “talking and making speech sounds” and compare the speech characteristics of those who had and had not accessed the services of a speech-language pathologist (SLP). ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 2013
Speech Sound Disorders in a Community Study of Preschool Children
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Sharynne McLeod
    Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, Australia
  • Linda J. Harrison
    Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, Australia
  • Lindy McAllister
    Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, Australia
    The University of Sydney, Australia
  • Jane McCormack
    Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, Australia
  • Correspondence to Sharynne McLeod: smcleod@csu.edu.au
  • Editor: Carol Scheffner Hammer
    Editor: Carol Scheffner Hammer×
  • Associate Editor: Ann Smit
    Associate Editor: Ann Smit×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2013
Speech Sound Disorders in a Community Study of Preschool Children
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, August 2013, Vol. 22, 503-522. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2012/11-0123)
History: Received September 13, 2011 , Revised March 9, 2012 , Accepted December 18, 2012
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, August 2013, Vol. 22, 503-522. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2012/11-0123)
History: Received September 13, 2011; Revised March 9, 2012; Accepted December 18, 2012
Web of Science® Times Cited: 9

Purpose To undertake a community (nonclinical) study to describe the speech of preschool children who had been identified by parents/teachers as having difficulties “talking and making speech sounds” and compare the speech characteristics of those who had and had not accessed the services of a speech-language pathologist (SLP).

Method Stage 1: Parent/teacher concern regarding the speech skills of 1,097 4- to 5-year-old children attending early childhood centers was documented. Stage 2a: One hundred forty-three children who had been identified with concerns were assessed. Stage 2b: Parents returned questionnaires about service access for 109 children.

Results The majority of the 143 children (86.7%) achieved a standard score below the normal range for the percentage of consonants correct (PCC) on the Diagnostic Evaluation of Articulation and Phonology (Dodd, Hua, Crosbie, Holm, & Ozanne, 2002). Consonants produced incorrectly were consistent with the late-8 phonemes (Shriberg, 1993). Common phonological patterns were fricative simplification (82.5%), cluster simplification (49.0%)/reduction (19.6%), gliding (41.3%), and palatal fronting (15.4%). Interdental lisps on /s/ and /z/ were produced by 39.9% of the children, dentalization of other sibilants by 17.5%, and lateral lisps by 13.3%. Despite parent/teacher concern, only 41/109 children had contact with an SLP. These children were more likely to be unintelligible to strangers, to express distress about their speech, and to have a lower PCC and a smaller consonant inventory compared to the children who had no contact with an SLP.

Conclusion A significant number of preschool-age children with speech sound disorders (SSD) have not had contact with an SLP. These children have mild-severe SSD and would benefit from SLP intervention. Integrated SLP services within early childhood communities would enable earlier identification of SSD and access to intervention to reduce potential educational and social impacts affiliated with SSD.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by the following sources: Australian Research Council Discovery Grant DP0773978; Australian Research Council Future Fellowship FT0990588; and the Charles Sturt University Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education. The authors acknowledge insights, assistance, and support from Christine Porter, Bethany Toohill, Emma Heinrich, and Hannah Wilkin.
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