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Speech, Language, and Hearing

Auditory Processing in Noise: A Preschool Biomarker for Literacy

White-Schwoch T, Woodruff Carr K, Thompson EC, Anderson S, Nicol T, Bradlow AR, et al. (2015) Auditory Processing in Noise: A Preschool Biomarker for Literacy. PLoS Biol 13(7): e1002196.

This study suggests that the neural processing of consonants in noise plays a fundamental role in language development. Children who struggle to listen in noisy environments may struggle to make meaning of the language they hear on a daily basis, which can in turn set them at risk for literacy challenges. Evaluating the neural coding of speech in noise may provide an objective neurophysiological marker for these at-risk children, opening a door to early and specific interventions that may stave off a life spent struggling to read.

Effects of Reading to Infants and Toddlers on Their Early Language Development

Dunst, Carl J.; Simkus, Andrew; Hamby, Deborah W. (2012). Effects of Reading to Infants and Toddlers on Their Early Language Development. CELLreviews 5(4), Asheville, NC: Orelena Hawks Puckett Institute.

The effects of reading to infants and toddlers were examined in a meta-analysis of six intervention studies including 408 participants. Results indicated that interventions were effective in promoting the children's expressive and receptive language. The benefits of the interventions increased the earlier the interventions were started and the longer they were implemented. Implications of the findings for research and practice are described.

Talking to Children Matters: Early Language Experience Strengthens Processing and Builds Vocabulary

Weisleder, A. & Fernald, A. (2013). Talking to children matters: Early language experience strengthens processing and builds vocabulary. Psychological Science, November 2013 24: 2143-2152.

In this study, researchers explored how the amount of speech directed to infants in Spanish-speaking families low in socioeconomic status influenced the development of children’s skill in real-time language processing and vocabulary learning. Results showed that children who had experienced more child-directed speech were more efficient at processing language. The analyses revealed a cascade of effects — those toddlers who heard more child-directed talk became faster and more reliable in interpreting speech, and it was their superior skill in processing language that then increased their success in vocabulary learning. An important finding was that even within a low-SES group there were substantial differences among parents in verbal engagement with their children and in children's language outcomes.

SES differences in language processing skill and vocabulary are evident at 18 months

Fernald, A., Marchman, V. A. and Weisleder, A. (2013), SES differences in language processing skill and vocabulary are evident at 18 months. Developmental Science, 16: 234–248.

This research revealed both similarities and striking differences in early language proficiency among infants from a broad range of advantaged and disadvantaged families. English-learning infants were followed longitudinally from 18 to 24 months, using real-time measures of spoken language processing. The first goal was to track developmental changes in processing efficiency in relation to vocabulary learning in this diverse sample. The second goal was to examine differences in these crucial aspects of early language development in relation to family socioeconomic status (SES). The most important findings were that significant disparities in vocabulary and language processing efficiency were already evident at 18 months between infants from higher- and lower-SES families, and by 24 months there was a 6-month gap between SES groups in processing skills critical to language development.

Human Voice Recognition Depends on Language Ability

Perrachione, T., Stephanie Del Tufo, S., Gabrieli, J. Human Voice Recognition Depends on Language Ability. Science 29 July 2011: 595.

The ability to recognize people by their voice is an important social behavior. Individuals differ in how they pronounce words, and listeners may take advantage of language-specific knowledge of speech phonology to facilitate recognizing voices. Impaired phonological processing is characteristic of dyslexia and thought to be a basis for difficulty in learning to read. The researchers tested voice-recognition abilities of dyslexic and control listeners for voices speaking listeners’ native language or an unfamiliar language. Individuals with dyslexia exhibited impaired voice-recognition abilities compared with controls only for voices speaking their native language. These results demonstrate the importance of linguistic representations for voice recognition. Humans appear to identify voices by making comparisons between talkers' pronunciations of words and listeners' stored abstract representations of the sounds in those words. Related article: Study Sheds Light on Auditory Role in Dyslexia.

Musical Training Helps Language Processing, Studies Show

Trei, L. Musical Training Helps Language Processing, Studies Show. Stanford Report, 15 November 2005.

In what will be music to the ears of arts advocates, researchers for the first time have shown that mastering a musical instrument improves the way the human brain processes parts of spoken language. The findings could bolster efforts to make music as much a part of elementary school education as reading and mathematics.

The Communication Journey of a Fully Included Child With an Autism Spectrum Disorder

Diehl, Sylvia F.; Ford, Carolyn S.; and Federico, Jeanne. The Communication Journey of a Fully Included Child With an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Topics in Language Disorders: October/December 2005, Volume 25, Issue 4, p 375–387.

This article follows José, a child with autism spectrum disorder, through his communication journey from age 3 to age 11. His journey illustrates many of the characteristics and challenges of individuals with autism spectrum disorders, as they become a part of the literate community in the general education classroom. Collaborative, family-based teaming strategies that supported José's language and literacy learning from kindergarten through fourth grade are described. The article credits early, intensive intervention based on the family's concerns and goals for meaningful outcomes and communicative competence across learning contexts and communicative partners. Speech-language pathologists' roles as advocates for all students to have access to the social and literate community are also highlighted.

The SLP's Role in Collaborative Assessment and Intervention for Children with ASD

Diehl, Sylvia Farnsworth. The SLP's Role in Collaborative Assessment and Intervention for Children with ASD. Topics in Language Disorders, v23 n2 p95-115 Apr-Jun 2003.

National trends indicate an increasing number of children identified with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The diagnostic criteria for autistic disorder include deficits in social interaction and communication. The communication support required by children with ASD is varied and complex, requiring collaboration from many disciplines. This article focuses on the speech language pathologist's (SLP) role as a member of a collaborative team in identifying patterns of strengths and challenges in communication in children with autism and in providing social, behavioral, and communication supports. It presents two case studies of boys (ages 10-12) with autism.

"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." — Walt Disney