Sound start study: Realization of grammatical morphemes by children with speech sound disorders

Charlotte Howland, Elise Baker, Sharynne McLeod, Natalie Monroe

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Speech sound disorders (SSD) are common in pre-schoolers. Concomitant expressive language impairment is often reported. However, poor speech sound production can obscure children's realization of grammatical markers, preventing reliable assessment of their expressive abilities. For example, ‘laughed' /laft/ as [waf] could reflect difficulty marking past tense, and/or cluster reduction. As children with SSD may have difficulty producing grammatical morphemes, particularly finite markers, research is needed to more closely examine these children's morphophonological abilities.The purpose of this study was twofold. Firstly, to identify and categorize ways pre-schoolers with SSD realize grammatical morphemes. Secondly, to explore whether realization of grammatical morphemes differs across morphological (finite and non-finite) and phonological (singleton,consonant cluster, syllable) contexts. Eighty-seven pre-schoolers (aged 4-5 years) with SSD from years 1 and 2 of the Sound Start Study completed the Children's Assessment of Morphophonology (CHAMP, Baker, 2013) in addition to standardized tests of speech and language. The 1392 responses on the CHAMP were sorted into 11 identified response categories, then subdivided by morpheme type (e.g., 63/261 responses assessing regular past tense were categorised as‘morpheme not realized because final consonant was deleted'). Finite morphemes (particularly past tense) were realized significantly less often than non-finite morphemes. Morphemes in consonant clusters were realized significantly less often than morphemes in singleton consonants or syllables.Finite morphemes in consonant clusters were the most challenging for children to realize. These findings have implications regarding assessment and differential diagnosis of pre-schoolers with concomitant speech and morphosyntax difficulties.
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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