Enabling new articulatory gestures in children with persistent speech sound disorders using ultrasound visual biofeedback

Cleland, Joanne and Scobbie, James M. and Roxburgh, Zoe and Heyde, Cornelia and Wrench, Alan (2019) Enabling new articulatory gestures in children with persistent speech sound disorders using ultrasound visual biofeedback. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 62 (2). pp. 229-246. ISSN 1092-4388 (https://doi.org/10.1044/2018_JSLHR-S-17-0360)

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Purpose: This study evaluated ultrasound visual biofeedback treatment for teaching new articulations to children with a wide variety of speech sound disorders. It was hypothesized that motor-based intervention incorporating ultrasound would lead to rapid acquisition of a range of target lingual gestures with generalization to untreated words. Method: Twenty children aged 6–15 years with a range of mild to severe speech disorders affecting a variety of lingual targets enrolled in a case series with replication. Of these, 15 children completed the intervention. All of the children presented with a variety of errors. We therefore employed a target selection strategy to treat the most frequent lingual error. These individual speech targets were treated using ultrasound visual biofeedback as part of ten to twelve 1-hr intervention sessions. The primary outcome measure was percentage of target segments correct in untreated wordlists. Results: Six children were treated for velar fronting; 3 children, for postalveolar fronting; 2 children, for backing alveolars to pharyngeal or glottal place; 1 child, for debuccalization (production of all onsets as [h]); 1 child, for vowel merger; and 2 children, for lateralized sibilants. Ten achieved the new articulation in the 1st or 2nd session of intervention, despite no children being readily stimulable for their target articulation before intervention. In terms of generalization, effect sizes for percentage of target segments correct ranged from no effect (5 children), small effect (1 child), medium effect (4 children), and large effect (5 children). Conclusions: Ultrasound visual biofeedback can be used to treat a wide range of lingual errors in children with various speech sound disorders, from mild to severe. Visual feedback may be useful for establishing new articulations; however, generalization is more variable.