Childhood apraxia of speech is a developmental speech sound disorder that may lead to persisting speech errors, often despite years of treatment. Such impairments may lead to social, academic, and vocational limitations. Thus, there is a need to explore alternate treatment approaches. This study will explore how to improve speech sound production in school-age children with CAS by modifying a standard speech therapy program. Two adaptations to speech therapy will be tested in a 2 x 2 randomized group design.
In Aim 1, we will compare a standard treatment schedule of 2 one-hour sessions per week vs. a treatment sequence beginning with an intensive therapy schedule (10 hrs of treatment in one week), which will then transition to a more distributed practice schedule. This treatment modification is intended to minimize erred practice between training sessions in the early stages of learning, then foster generalization through increased time between practice sessions.
In Aim 2, we will compare a standard treatment that includes only verbal feedback to the client during speech practice vs. a treatment sequence that initially includes real-time ultrasound visual feedback of the tongue during speech, which will be faded over the course of treatment. Ultrasound visual feedback is designed to train articulatory movements. It may enhance children?s understanding of the articulatory goals of speech movement patterns by comparing executed tongue movements with intended movements. Prior case reports and single subject experimental designs have shown that speech sound production may be enhanced by including ultrasound visual feedback, although no prior randomized group studies have been conducted. Beside these modifications, the other aspects of treatment will be held constant. Outcomes will be evaluated by tracking changes in percent consonants correct from a large speech sample, scored by individuals who are blind to treatment status. The four groups will be compared to determine the extent to which speech sound therapy can be enhanced through a treatment sequence that begins with intensive practice and/or with ultrasound visual feedback. Finally, as part of the R15 mechanism, undergraduate and graduate students will be involved in clinically oriented research. They will develop scientific literacy by being exposed to critical aspects of the scientific process including research design, operationalization of behavioral research protocols, blinding, reliability, fidelity monitoring, and ethical considerations in research.

Public Health Relevance

The study will test two modifications to speech therapy for 40 school-age children with childhood apraxia of speech to determine how to improve treatment outcomes. The study will compare treatment that includes real-time visual feedback of the tongue during speech using ultrasound vs traditional therapy that does not include ultrasound visual feedback. Additionally, some children will be treated with a traditional schedule of 2 sessions per week, whereas others will be provided with treatment that begins with intensive training (10 hours of therapy in one week) and progresses to a more distributed treatment schedule.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Academic Research Enhancement Awards (AREA) (R15)
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Motor Function, Speech and Rehabilitation Study Section (MFSR)
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Shekim, Lana O
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Syracuse University
Other Health Professions
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Preston, Jonathan L; McCabe, Patricia; Tiede, Mark et al. (2018) Tongue shapes for rhotics in school-age children with and without residual speech errors. Clin Linguist Phon :1-15
Preston, Jonathan L; Holliman-Lopez, Gabriela; Leece, Megan C (2018) Do Participants Report Any Undesired Effects in Ultrasound Speech Therapy? Am J Speech Lang Pathol 27:813-818