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The impact of artificial subvocal articulation during spelling activities for children who do and do not use augmentative and alternative communication

Jillian H McCarthy, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Spelling is a vital skill for all children; however, the ability to spell provides children who rely on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) the opportunity to create novel and spontaneous communication. Additionally, for children who use AAC the ability to spell increases educational, social, and employment opportunities. However, many children who use AAC struggle to gain functional spelling skills and written language. Three factors have been proposed by previous researchers that influence spelling abilities with mixed results: (a) subvocal articulation, (b) speech intelligibility, and (c) phonologic-orthographic consistency. The current study aimed to further examine how these factors influenced spelling; specifically (a) how does an artificial subvocal articulation (i.e., sounding out specific sounds in the target word) increase accuracy of spelling nonword that vary in phonologic-orthographic consistency, and (b) does speech intelligibility mediate the influence of artificial subvocal articulation in spelling nonwords with varying phonologic-orthographic consistency? Seven children with cerebral palsy, 4 who use AAC to communicate and 3 who do not, participated in a single-subject ABAB design. The children ranged in age from 5 years, 8 months to11 years, 3 months. Results indicated that regardless of AAC use artificial subvocal articulation increased spelling accuracy of nonwords varying in phonologic-orthographic consistency. With artificial subvocal articulation nonwords with consistent orthographies were spelled with greater accuracy than inconsistent nonwords. For the second purpose of the research study results demonstrated that speech intelligibility did not mediate the use of artificial subvocal articulation. Children with severe dysarthria and children with moderate dysarthria showed spelling gains when they used artificial subvocal articulation. Overall, findings suggest that artificial subvocal articulation is a beneficial compensation strategy for increasing spelling accuracy in children with complex communication needs (CCN) across speech abilities and age. Future directions and clinical implications are discussed.

Subject Area

Speech therapy

Recommended Citation

McCarthy, Jillian H, "The impact of artificial subvocal articulation during spelling activities for children who do and do not use augmentative and alternative communication" (2011). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3465574.