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Communication-related parameters in TD children (Schölderle et al., 2021)

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posted on 07.07.2021, 18:13 by Theresa Schölderle, Elisabet Haas, Stefanie Baumeister, Wolfram Ziegler
Purpose: This article describes the developmental trajectories of four communication-related parameters (i.e., intelligibility, articulation rate, fluency, and communicative efficiency) in a cross-sectional study of typically developing children between 3 and 9 years. The four target parameters were related to auditory-perceptual parameters of speech function.
Method: One hundred forty-four typically developing children (ages 3;0–9;11 [years;months]; 72 girls and 72 boys) participated. Speech samples were collected using the materials of the Bogenhausen Dysarthria Scales for Childhood Dysarthria, a German assessment tool for childhood dysarthria, and analyzed following established auditory-perceptual criteria on relevant speech functions. To assess intelligibility, naïve listeners transcribed sentences repeated by the children. Articulation rate and fluency were measured by acoustic analyses; communicative efficiency was determined by multiplying the proportion of correctly transcribed syllables by speech rate.
Results: Intelligibility showed a steep developmental trajectory, with the majority of children obtaining a proportion of intelligible syllables close to 1.0 at the age of 5 years. Articulation rate demonstrated a flatter trajectory, with high variability still within the older children. Disfluencies, on the contrary, occurred only in the youngest children. By definition, communicative efficiency shared the characteristics of intelligibility and rate curves. A principal component analysis revealed, among other findings, strong connections between intelligibility and articulation, as well as between communicative efficiency, articulation, and rate measures.
Conclusions: While children speak intelligibly, in terms of the applied assessment, at a comparably young age, other communication-relevant parameters show a slower developmental progress. Knowledge on the typical development of communication-related parameters and on their complex relationships with functional speech variables is crucial for the clinical assessment of childhood dysarthria.

Supplemental Material S1. Proposal for clinical use of the age norms.

Schölderle, T., Haas, E., Baumeister, S., & Ziegler, W. (2021). Intelligibility, articulation rate, fluency, and communicative efficiency in typically developing children. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1044/2021_JSLHR-20-00640

Funding

This research was supported by a grant from the German Research Foundation (DFG) awarded to the first and last authors (SCHO 17421-1, ZI 469/17-1), as well as a PhD fellowship from the German National Academic Foundation awarded to the second author.

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