Speech characteristics of 8-year-old children with speech difficulties: Findings from a prospective population study

Yvonne Wren, Sharynne McLeod, Paul White, Laura L. Miller, Sue Roulstone

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Speech disorder that continues into middle childhood is rarely studied compared with speech disorder in the early years. Speech production in single words, connected speech and nonword repetition was assessed for 7390 eight-year-old children within the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). The majority (n = 6399) had typical speech and 50 of these children served as controls. The remainder were categorised as using common clinical distortions only (CCD, n = 582) or speech difficulties (SDiff, n = 409). The samples from the CCD children were not analysed further. Speech samples from the SDiff and the control children were transcribed and analysed in terms of percentage consonants correct, error type and syllable structure. Findings were compared with those from children in the Shriberg et al. (1997) lifespan database (n = 25). The 8-year-old children from ALSPAC in the SDiff and control groups achieved similar speech accuracy scores to the 8-year-old children in the lifespan database. The SDiff group had consistently lower scores than the ALSPAC control group, with the following measures most clearly differentiating the groups: single word task (percentage of substitutions and distortions), connected speech task (percentage of vowels correct (PVC), percentage of omission of singletons and entire clusters, and stress pattern matches), nonword repetition task (PVC, percentage of entire clusters omitted, percentage of distortions, and percentage of stress pattern matches). Connected speech and nonword samples provide useful supplementary data for identifying older children with atypical speech.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-69
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Communication Disorders
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


Grant Number

  • FT0990588

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