Facilitating Phoneme Awareness Development in 3- and 4-Year-Old Children With Speech Impairment Purpose: This study investigated the phonological awareness and early literacy development of 12 children who presented at 3 years of age with moderate or severe speech impairment. The children’s response to early intervention that included specific activities to facilitate phoneme awareness and letter knowledge, in addition to improving speech intelligibility, ... Clinical Forum
EDITOR'S AWARD
Clinical Forum  |   October 2005
Facilitating Phoneme Awareness Development in 3- and 4-Year-Old Children With Speech Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Gail T. Gillon
    Department of Communication Disorders, University of Canterbury, Private Bag, 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand
Article Information
Development / Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Clinical Forum: Phonological Awareness
Clinical Forum   |   October 2005
Facilitating Phoneme Awareness Development in 3- and 4-Year-Old Children With Speech Impairment
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, October 2005, Vol. 36, 308-324. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2005/031)
History: Received April 27, 2004 , Accepted November 12, 2004
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, October 2005, Vol. 36, 308-324. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2005/031)
History: Received April 27, 2004; Accepted November 12, 2004

Purpose: This study investigated the phonological awareness and early literacy development of 12 children who presented at 3 years of age with moderate or severe speech impairment. The children’s response to early intervention that included specific activities to facilitate phoneme awareness and letter knowledge, in addition to improving speech intelligibility, was examined.

Method: Using a 3-year longitudinal design, the children’s development in phonological awareness was monitored and compared to that of a group of 19 children without speech impairment. During the monitoring period from 3 to 5 years of age, the children with speech impairment received, on average, 25.5 intervention sessions. At 6 years of age, the children’s performance on phonological awareness, reading, and spelling measures was also compared to that of the 19 children without impairment as well as to a matched control group of children with speech impairment who had not received any specific instruction in phonological awareness.

Results: The results indicated that (a) phoneme awareness can be stimulated in children with speech impairment as young as 3 and 4 years of age, (b) facilitating phoneme awareness development can be achieved concurrently with improvement in speech intelligibility, and (c) enhancing phoneme awareness and letter knowledge during the preschool years is associated with successful early reading and spelling experiences for children with speech impairment.

Clinical Implications: The data provide evidence to support the clinical practice of integrating activities to develop phoneme awareness and letter knowledge into therapy for 3- and 4-year-old children with moderate or severe speech impairment.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
The author would like to sincerely thank the children and families who participated so willingly in the research study. Thanks are also expressed to the New Zealand Ministry of Education speech-language therapists for their cooperation in the study. Thank you to the following postgraduate students and clinical educators in the Department of Communication Disorders, University of Canterbury, who assisted with assessment and/or intervention in differing phases of this longitudinal investigation: Sally Clendon, Esther Kennedy, Emma Hamilton, Kay Solomon, Dean Sutherland, Barbara Watson, and Marleen Westerveld. Thanks are also expressed to Dr. Emily Lin for statistical advice in data analyses. This study was financially supported through a University of Canterbury Internal Research Grant.
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