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Int J Lang Commun Disord. 2007 Mar-Apr;42(2):229-50.

Development of phonological representations and phonological awareness in children with speech impairment.

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Department of Communication Disorders, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.



Children with speech impairment are more likely to have difficulty learning to read compared with children with typical speech development. Researchers have hypothesized that a difficulty in accessing good-quality phonological representations of words stored in the memory may constrain these children's performance on phonological awareness tasks and subsequent early reading acquisition.


The study investigated the following research questions. (1) Do preschool children with moderate or severe speech impairment show persistent difficulty on tasks designed to tap underlying phonological representations? (2) What is the relationship between performance on phonological representation tasks and measures of speech production, phonological awareness and early print decoding?


Utilizing a longitudinal design, the performance of nine children (aged 3.09-5.03 years at initial assessment) with moderate or severe speech impairment and of 17 children of the same age with typical speech development were assessed on three occasions over a 12-month period. Assessments included receptive-based tasks designed to tap underlying phonological representations, speech production and phonological awareness measures.


Children with speech impairment had greater difficulty judging correct and incorrect productions of words, and had difficulty in reflecting on the accuracy of newly learned non-words. Moderate correlations were observed between performance on phonological representation and phonological awareness tasks.


Poorly specified underlying phonological representations will result in difficulties during listening, speaking and phonological awareness tasks, as well as create additional challenges during the decoding of written words for some children.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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