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Title: Speech perceptual acuity in children with reading difficulty
Author: Adlard, Alan James
ISNI:       0000 0001 3398 4980
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2001
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A range of controlled experimental studies has reported comparative weakness in phoneme discrimination and identification in language-impaired (LI) and reading- impaired (SRD) groups of children. The implication was that members of these groups were generally less able to perform reliably on such tests. However, the number of speech contrasts/tokens used has typically been very limited, and it was uncertain to what extent speech perceptual difficulties were linked to the reading status of subjects, or whether all children in SRD groups had comparable difficulties. The main phase of the work reported here was designed to vary the acoustic-phonetic complexity of minimal pairs. Two different synthetic (copy-synthesised) continua for a stop and a fricative contrast were also used, following pilot testing. Non-speech based psychoacoustic tests, and tests of reading and single-item repetition, were employed. Thirteen children having similar reading delays and age, 12 chronological-age and 12 reading-age control children were selected and tested individually. Evidence is reported that a "sub-group" of SRD children performed relatively poorly on several speech-based and repetition tests, whilst the remainder of these children performed within norms. Also, their discrimination performance was particularly weak for consonant contrasts differing in a single feature which was not acoustically-salient. Problems were encountered with nasal and fricative contrasts as well as with stop contrasts. Contrasts of greater acoustic-phonetic complexity provided by consonant clusters were also problematic for these children. The experimental and control groups did not differ on the non-speech discrimination (psychoacoustic) tasks. Discussion is made of the acoustic cues thought to be related to the range of perceptual "weakness" found, the emergence of the utilisation of such cues in normal perceptual development, and the theoretical importance of phonological knowledge to the development of speech and beginning reading.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Psychology