Adventures in Article Reviews – 1

The format for the article reviews will be a bit different than typical. Hopefully they will still be easy to read…and fun. Well, as fun as one can make article reviews. Okay…Not fun at all, but come on, they’re an integral part of our career choice. There will, most likely, be little add-on comments because sometimes I just can’t stop myself. They will be in brackets [with italics]…for the most part. Well, except for the end where it’s ALL my discussion. Here we go! blog research reviews

Title:Preschool Speech Error Patterns Predict Articulation and Phonological Awareness Outcomes in Children With Histories of Speech Sound Disorders 

Synopsis: The purpose of the research was to determine if the sound error patterns in preschool-age children predicts articulation and phonological awareness skills at school-age.

The authors compared the speech-sound error patterns of preschool-aged children to identify type and severity of error. A total of 43 preschools children (aged 4;0 – 5;9) were assessed. Their speech errors were defined as distortion, typical error (e.g., cluster reduction, stopping), or atypical (e.g., backing,substituting fricatives for stops [what would we call that?]). Of those 43 children, 25 were retested and included in the follow-up study.

Follow-up results indicated the children with a greater number of atypical errors had poorer phonological awareness, reading, and spelling skills. The authors discussed previous research (e.g., Rvachew, et al 2007;  Bird, et al 1995) [disclaimer: at the time I wrote this review, I did not read all the articles discussed in the literature review or results section]. Although the results were contrary to previous findings, the authors suggested the previous studies did not have a wide enough time lapse between the studies to truly determine if there were significant changes. For instance, according to the authors, the Rvachew, et al study looked at atypical errors in preschool vs kindergarten phonological awareness errors. With only one to two years between preschool and kindergarten, there may not have been enough of a discrepancy present. However, with this study the nearly four years between initial testing and follow-up testing allowed for a larger discrepancy to be present. [For the record, I can see this. There is a HUGE change in what kindergarten students must know and what first and second grade students must know. If a phonological awareness difficulty was going to raise its ugly head, it would most likely be when the students are reading – blending, segmenting, etc. not just learning letter sounds/names. Before anyone says anything – yes, I know kindergarten students are beginning to read, however, by the time a student is finishing 1st and entering 2nd, the phonological awareness load is significantly higher.]

Discussion (aka my interpretation): This article was interesting. One of the things I was taught in grad school, is the correlation between a phonological (or speech sound) disorder and later reading difficulties. This study indicates that understanding is probably still true.

Secondly, the article discussed how children with speech-sound disorders are at risk for persistent speech-sound production errors at school age. Now, I’m pretty sure they could have asked any number of school-based SLPs and they would have been told the same thing…but now we have the research to support what we’ve always known.

Finally, and this one is big. It’s not just the severity of the speech-sound disorder we need to consider. It’s the type of errors that are present. For instance, my understanding of this research is, that little Tommy (who is four) who has the “typical” phono errors (cluster reduction, fronting, gliding) and is highly unintelligible with a moderate-profound disorder may have some residual issues. However, little Davey who is also four, and also has some typical phono errors (cluster reduction, gliding) but backs his alveolar sounds instead of fronting velars, is more at risk for having significant phonological awareness, reading, and spelling difficulties in school. 

In fact, from reading the synopsis – it sounds as though a student with a moderate speech-sound disorder but with atypical errors may be at a higher risk for lingering problems than a severe speech-sound disorder with only “typical” errors. Hmmm. Now that could potentially throw a wrench in the “how long will this kid be on my caseload” plan (aka prognosis).

Finally, what this really comes down to is the need to incorporate metaphonological activities for ALL of our students with a speech-sound disorder. We need to encourage our preschoolers to start rhyming, etc. even before they start kindergarten.

What are your thoughts regarding speech sound disorders and phonological awareness or reading? I’d love to hear…Drop me a note here.

Until then…Adventure on!


[Disclaimer: If you are a student working on an undergrad or graduate degree, please do not use this review as part of your coursework. Your professors are not dumb, they all know how to google search, and I’d hate for negative repercussions to fall on your head. You may, of course, read it and perhaps it will create questions of your own to answer by reading the article more thoroughly.]

Citation: Preston, J., Hull, M., & Edwards, M. L. (2013) American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology Vol.22 173-184 May 2013. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2012/12-0022)

13 thoughts on “Adventures in Article Reviews – 1

  1. Mary, artic/phono are definitely not my areas of expertise, and I have had minimal exposure to working with these areas. That said, you are one of the few people that can get me more interested in these topics! Great review. Fascinating to think about how this could affect prognosis and the therapy plan. If I ever end up working with kiddos again, having this research in the back of my mind will be immensely helpful!

  2. Great review! Good to know that the type of error makes all the difference. I think I remember learning something like that a few years ago in graduate school. Hope this information helps with planning!

  3. Mary, Jon Preston’s findings and mine are not different, they are exactly the same, our statistical analysis and interpretation is different but our findings are exactly the same. Atypical errors are associated with a higher risk of PA problems but they are are also a marker for greater severity of speech problem. Your conclusion is sound, screen all children with speech sound disorders for PA, make sure these skills are normalized before grade one. Susan

    • Really? I will have to read your study. The article specifically stated: “These results are contrary to the longitudinal results reported by Rvachew et al. (2007), who found no association between preschool atypical errors and end-of-kindergarten PA. Thus, it is possible that the longitudinal effects may not be robust until beyond kindergarten. ”

      Thank you for the input. I appreciate it. Thankfully, it was beat into me early on that speech-sound disorders and phonological awareness difficulties often go hand-in-hand. However, I know that many are not/have not been taught that as thoroughly.

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  5. Reading this, I’m struck by the degree to which this may be used to advocate for services in areas where they are being cut, or caseloads are reaching toppling proportions. Thank you for the information. I will be tucking it away for future retrieval.

  6. Good stuff. Such an interesting area when you get into phonological disorders and reading skills. They are so intertwined and so closely related as this article supports. Really makes the ‘teamwork’ aspect of working in a school setting that much more important.

    Schoolhouse Talk!

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