A Longitudinal Study of Speech Timing in Young Children Later Found to Have Reading Disability Purpose This study examined the development of timing characteristics in early spontaneous speech of children who were later identified as having reading disability (RD). Method Child–adult play sessions were recorded longitudinally at 2 and 3 years of age in 27 children, most of whom were at high familial ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 2008
A Longitudinal Study of Speech Timing in Young Children Later Found to Have Reading Disability
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Allan B. Smith
    University of Maine, Orono
  • Susan Lambrecht Smith
    University of Maine, Orono
  • John L. Locke
    Lehman College, New York
  • Jane Bennett
    University of Maine, Orono
  • Contact author: Allan B. Smith, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, 5724 Dunn Hall, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469-5724. E-mail: allan.b.smith@umit.maine.edu.
Article Information
Development / Language Disorders / Reading & Writing Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 2008
A Longitudinal Study of Speech Timing in Young Children Later Found to Have Reading Disability
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2008, Vol. 51, 1300-1314. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/06-0193)
History: Received October 25, 2006 , Revised April 30, 2007 , Accepted February 25, 2008
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2008, Vol. 51, 1300-1314. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2008/06-0193)
History: Received October 25, 2006; Revised April 30, 2007; Accepted February 25, 2008
Web of Science® Times Cited: 18

Purpose This study examined the development of timing characteristics in early spontaneous speech of children who were later identified as having reading disability (RD).

Method Child–adult play sessions were recorded longitudinally at 2 and 3 years of age in 27 children, most of whom were at high familial risk for RD. For each speaking turn, the number of syllables was determined and an acoustic analysis measured the time allocated to articulation, pausing before speaking, and pausing during speaking.

Results In grade school, a reading battery identified 9 children with RD and 18 children without RD (9 at high risk, 9 at low risk). Early speaking rate was significantly slower in the group with RD, with significantly different patterns of pausing compared with children without RD. Group differences became more distinct by age 3, as longer speaking turns were attempted.

Conclusions The results are discussed in terms of speech and language formulation. Phonetic plans may be shorter and/or less specified in children with RD, surfacing as slow, short speaking turns with increased pausing relative to articulation. This explanation is consistent with several accounts of RD and provides a perspective on how speech and language deficits may manifest during spontaneous verbal interactions between young children and adults.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by grants from the James S. McDonnell Foundation, the Cape Branch Foundation, and the Massachusetts Humane Society, awarded to the Neurolinguistics Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital. We are also extremely grateful to the families who participated in this project.
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