Sound start study: Randomised controlled trial of software to enhance preschoolers' speech and pre-literacy skills

Sharynne McLeod, Elise Baker, Jane McCormack, Yvonne Wren, Sue Roulstone, Kate Crowe, Sarah Masso

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Speech sound disorders (SSD) affect many Australian pre-schoolers 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 pre-schoolers’ 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 psycho linguistic 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.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - May 2016
EventSpeech Pathology Australia National Conference 2016 - Crown Perth, Perth, Australia
Duration: 15 May 201618 May 2016 (Conference website)


ConferenceSpeech Pathology Australia National Conference 2016
Abbreviated titleMaking waves
Internet address


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