Auditory-perceptual acuity in rhotic misarticulation: baseline characteristics and treatment response

Laine Cialdella, Heather Kabakoff, Jonathan Preston, Sarah Dugan, Caroline Spencer, Suzanne Boyce, Mark Tiede, D. Whalen, Tara McAllister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The rhotic sound /r/ is one of the latest-emerging sounds in English, and many children receive treatment for residual errors affecting /r/ that persist past the age of 9. Auditory-perceptual abilities of children with residual speech errors are thought to be different from their typically developing peers. This study examined auditory-perceptual acuity in children with residual speech errors affecting /r/ and the relation of these skills to production accuracy, both before and after a period of treatment incorporating visual biofeedback. Identification of items along an /r/-/w/ continuum was assessed prior to treatment. Production accuracy for /r/ was acoustically measured from standard/r/stimulability probes elicited before and after treatment. Fifty-nine children aged 9–15 with residual speech errors (RSE) affecting /r/ completed treatment, and forty-eight age-matched controls who completed the same auditory-perceptual task served as a comparison group. It was hypothesized that children with RSE would show lower auditory-perceptual acuity than typically developing speakers and that higher auditory-perceptual acuity would be associated with more accurate production before treatment. It was also hypothesized that auditory-perceptual acuity would serve as a mediator of treatment response. Results indicated that typically developing children have more acute perception of the /r/-/w/ contrast than children with RSE. Contrary to hypothesis, baseline auditory-perceptual acuity for /r/ did not predict baseline production severity. For baseline auditory-perceptual acuity in relation to biofeedback efficacy, there was an interaction between auditory-perceptual acuity and gender, such that higher auditory-perceptual acuity was associated with greater treatment response in female, but not male, participants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-42
Number of pages24
JournalClinical Linguistics and Phonetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Perception
  • personalized learning
  • residual speech errors
  • rhotic misarticulation
  • Humans
  • Speech Therapy
  • Speech Sound Disorder
  • Female
  • Speech
  • Articulation Disorders
  • Auditory Perception
  • Child
  • Speech Perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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