Visualizing Syllables: Real-Time Computerized Feedback Within a Speech–Language Intervention

Abstract

Computerized technologies now offer unprecedented opportunities to provide real-time visual feedback to facilitate children’s speech–language development. We employed a mixed-method design to examine the effectiveness of two speech–language interventions aimed at facilitating children’s multisyllabic productions: one incorporated a novel computerized feedback system, VocSyl, while the other used a traditional noncomputerized pacing board. Eighteen children with a variety of diagnoses, all of whom were at the single word stage of development, enrolled in either one of the two explicit speech–language interventions (VocSyl or Pacing Board) or an active control group. Convergent findings between and within groups supported the effectiveness of the VocSyl condition. For the children with a clinical diagnosis of autism in particular, visual inspection of individual data on treatment versus control targets indicated positive treatment effects for both of the two children enrolled in the VocSyl condition and one of the two children enrolled in the Pacing Board condition. Although the study does not permit definitive conclusions about the effectiveness of any particular treatment tool or strategy in isolation, it offers preliminary support for the integration of real-time computerized feedback within speech–language intervention.

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Acknowledgments

This work was supported by the University of Illinois Research Board; the Arnold Beckman Award; and Autism Speaks [#5744]. We are appreciative of all participating families, as well as assistance from research assistants in the Child Language and Literacy Lab, specifically: Alex Barker, Johanna Drucker, Beth Roos Eernisse, Mayowa Faboyede, Colleen Fahey, Monique Kammo, Kristin Lyons, Jena Lohrens-Becker, Paulina Mitra, Caitlin Mower, Charis Price, Lauren Ragins, Clare Rogers, Meghan Schassler, Ryan Schiffer, Claire Selin, Dai’Shon West, Emily Zimmerman, and Kori Zorina. Special thanks to Josh Hailpern and Reed La Botz for assistance with VocSyl.

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Correspondence to Laura DeThorne.

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DeThorne, L., Aparicio Betancourt, M., Karahalios, K. et al. Visualizing Syllables: Real-Time Computerized Feedback Within a Speech–Language Intervention. J Autism Dev Disord 45, 3756–3763 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-014-2274-8

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Keywords

  • Autism
  • Computerized feedback
  • Speech
  • Treatment
  • Intervention
  • Developmental disorders
  • Language