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Publication Detail
Assessing Speech Fluency Problems in Typically Developing Children Aged 4 to 5 Years
  • Publication Type:
  • Authors:
    Mirawdeli A
  • Date awarded:
  • Supervisors:
    Howell P
  • Awarding institution:
  • Language:
  • Date Submitted:
  • Keywords:
    Speech difficulty, Stuttering, Screening, Bercow, Schools
This thesis addresses the identification of children with expressive speech difficulties with a focus on stuttering. It is based on theoretical work that investigated the symptoms associated with stuttering (Howell, 2013). It also has a practical goal: The procedures that have been developed should help determine the risk of a child acquiring some form of speech difficulty. The children examined had just entered school (4-year-olds). To ensure reliable results were obtained, large, representative samples of children were required. Most of the children do not have speech difficulty. A sample of speech was obtained and analysed. The approach taken in analysis was to use an instrument that has been standardised and is currently used in research (Riley, 1994) and to apply it to the assessment of speech difficulty. Howell (2013) showed that this instrument is effective in screening for stuttering. The background to the screening work with stuttering is given in the literature review in Chapter 1. The challenges that arise when screening (a form of risk factor modelling) a real-world sample are discussed. Definitions and general features of stuttering are presented and various theories concerning how stuttering symptoms arise are reviewed. Chapters 2 to 6 report background studies, fieldwork and analyses that were conducted. Chapter 2 reports the results of a survey that was conducted to determine whether there was a need for a screening instrument and, if so, what form it should take. Chapters 3 and 4 report studies that were conducted to balance the need to keep assessments in schools short with ensuring the procedures are reliable and valid when used to identify children with speech difficulty. The assessments were based on Riley’s (1994) Stuttering Severity Instrument. Chapter 3 determined the minimum length a sample of speech needed to be and whether a spontaneous speech sample was sufficient when using Riley (1994) for assessing children for speech difficulty. The Stuttering Severity Instrument has three components (percentage of syllables that are not fluent, duration of selected long stutters and a measure of physical concomitants to stuttering). Chapter 4 addressed whether all three components are required to identify children with speech difficulty, since assessing fewer components would keep the procedure simple for use in schools. Chapter 5 reports an extensive field study that used Riley (1994) for identifying children with speech difficulty. Chapter 6 examined whether adding additional symptoms to those available in the Stuttering Severity Instrument that are appropriate for other common paediatric forms of speech difficulty would enhance accuracy of screening performance. Chapter 7 summarizes the work, draws conclusions and identifies future directions this research should take.
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