Associations between speech perception, vocabulary, and phonological awareness skill in school-aged children with speech sound disorders

Nina R. Benway, Kelly Garcia, Elaine Hitchcock, Tara McAllister, Megan C. Leece, Qiu Wang, Jonathan L. Preston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Prior studies report conflicting descriptions of the relationships between phonological awareness (PA), vocabulary, and speech perception in preschoolers with speech disorders. This study sought to determine the nature of these relationships in a sample of school-aged children with residual speech sound errors affecting /ɹ/. Method: Participants included 110 children aged 7;0– 17;4 (years;months) with residual errors impacting /ɹ/. Data on perceptual acuity and perceptual bias in an /ɹ/ identification task, receptive vocabulary, and PA were obtained. A theoretically and empirically motivated path model was constructed with vocabulary mediating the relationship between two measures of speech perception and PA. Model parameters were determined through maximum likelihood estimation with standard errors that were robust to nonnormality. Monte Carlo simulation was used to examine achieved power at the current sample size. Results: The saturated path model explained 19% of the variance in PA. The direct path between age-adjusted perceptual acuity and PA was significant, as was the direct path between vocabulary and PA. Contrary to our hypothesis, there was no evidence in the current sample that vocabulary skill mediated the relationship between speech perception and PA. Each individual path was adequately powered at the current sample size. Conclusions: The overall model provided evidence for a continued relationship between speech perception, measured by perceptual acuity of the sound in error, and PA in school-aged children with residual speech errors. Thus, measures of speech perception remain relevant to the assessment of school-aged children and adolescents in this population. Supplemental Material: 13641275.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)452-463
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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