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Speech-language outcomes during COVID-19 (Kokotek et al., 2024)

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posted on 2024-04-04, 14:28 authored by Leslie E. Kokotek, Karla N. Washington, Barbara Jane Cunningham, Shauna P. Acquavita

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to characterize the communicative participation and functional speech intelligibility (i.e., how children use communication and how well they are understood across everyday life) of typically developing (TD) bilingual Jamaican preschoolers and those with functionally defined speech sound disorders (fSSDs) in the COVID-19 milieu. Findings were also compared to an existing corpus of baseline data to document and explore differences in children’s speech-language outcomes secondary to pandemic-related social restrictions.

Method: Thirty bilingual Jamaican preschoolers, 21 TD and nine with fSSDs, were assessed during the pandemic via telepractice. Association and univariate mean testing were completed to characterize children’s communicative participation and functional speech intelligibility. Data were then compared to an existing corpus of baseline data (collected in person between 2013 and 2019), which included direct child assessment and parent reports and consisted of TD (n = 226) Jamaican Creole-English–speaking preschoolers and those with fSSDs (n = 39) to compare performance profiles across data sets. All participants attended schools in Kingston, Jamaica.

Results: Measures of communicative participation remained stable in the context of the COVID-19 milieu for children in the TD and fSSD groups, but functional speech intelligibility outcomes for children with fSSDs deviated between in-person findings collected from children pre-pandemic. Between-groups differences were also found on measures of speech production accuracy but were no longer significant when considering telepractice as a covariate.

Conclusions: Findings from this investigation serve to characterize the communicative participation and functional speech intelligibility of TD bilingual Jamaican preschoolers and those with fSSDs in the COVID-19 milieu. By extension, the results comparing data from preschoolers collected during the pandemic to an existing corpus of baseline data from a different group of preschoolers provide critical insights about multilingual children’s speech-language outcomes in the context of acutely changing environmental circumstances.

Supplemental Material S1. Example of device type and Internet download speeds reported.

Supplemental Material S2. Rationale and description for conducting a PCA.

Kokotek, L. E., Washington, K. N., Cunningham, B. J., & Acquavita, S. P. (2024). Speech-language outcomes in the COVID-19 milieu for multilingual Jamaican preschoolers and considerations for telepractice assessments. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1044/2024_AJSLP-23-00164

Funding

This research investigation was funded by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant 3R21DC018170-02S1, awarded to the first author as the recipient of a National Institutes of Health (NIH) diversity supplement award. This supplement was granted under the second author’s NIH R21 parent award (R21DC018170; principal investigator: K. N. Washington).

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