Auditory and somatosensory development for speech in later childhood

Samantha A. Ayala, Amanda Eads, Heather Kabakoff, Michelle T. Swartz, Douglas M. Shiller, Jennifer Hill, Elaine R. Hitchcock, Jonathan L. Preston, Tara McAllister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: This study collected measures of auditory-perceptual and oral somatosensory acuity in typically developing children and adolescents aged 9– 15 years. We aimed to establish reference data that can be used as a point of comparison for individuals with residual speech sound disorder (RSSD), espe-cially for RSSD affecting American English rhotics. We examined concurrent validity between tasks and hypothesized that performance on at least some tasks would show a significant association with age, reflecting ongoing refine-ment of sensory function in later childhood. We also tested for an inverse rela-tionship between performance on auditory and somatosensory tasks, which would support the hypothesis of a trade-off between sensory domains. Method: Ninety-eight children completed three auditory-perceptual tasks (iden-tification and discrimination of stimuli from a “rake”–“wake” continuum and cat-egory goodness judgment for naturally produced words containing rhotics) and three oral somatosensory tasks (bite block with auditory masking, oral stereo-gnosis, and articulatory awareness, which involved explicit judgments of relative tongue position for different speech sounds). Pairwise associations were exam-ined between tasks within each domain and between task performance and age. Composite measures of auditory-perceptual and somatosensory functions were used to investigate the possibility of a sensory trade-off. Results: Statistically significant associations were observed between the identi-fication and discrimination tasks and the bite block and articulatory awareness tasks. In addition, significant associations with age were found for the category goodness and bite block tasks. There was no statistically significant evidence of a trade-off between auditory-perceptual and somatosensory domains. Conclusions: This study provided a multidimensional characterization of speech-related sensory function in older children/adolescents. Complete mate-rials to administer all experimental tasks have been shared, along with mea-sures of central tendency and dispersion for scores in two subgroups of age. Ultimately, we hope to apply this information to make customized treatment recommendations for children with RSSD based on sensory profiles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1252-1273
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2023


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