Article Title

Development and validation of a probe word list to assess speech motor skills in children

Abstract

Purpose: The aim of the study was to develop and validate a probe word list and scoring system to assess speech motor skills in preschool and school-age children with motor speech disorders.

Method: This article describes the development of a probe word list and scoring system using a modified word complexity measure and principles based on the hierarchical development of speech motor control known as the Motor Speech Hierarchy (MSH). The probe word list development accounted for factors related to word (i.e., motoric) complexity, linguistic variables, and content familiarity. The probe word list and scoring system was administered to 48 preschool and school-age children with moderate-to-severe speech motor delay at clinical centers in Ontario, Canada, and then evaluated for reliability and validity.

Results: One-way analyses of variance revealed that the motor complexity of the probe words increased significantly for each MSH stage, while no significant differences in the linguistic complexity were found for neighborhood density, mean biphone frequency, or log word frequency. The probe word list and scoring system yielded high reliability on measures of internal consistency and intrarater reliability. Interrater reliability indicated moderate agreement across the MSH stages, with the exception of MSH Stage V, which yielded substantial agreement. The probe word list and scoring system demonstrated high content, construct (unidimensionality, convergent validity, and discriminant validity), and criterion-related (concurrent and predictive) validity.

Conclusions: The probe word list and scoring system described in the current study provide a standardized method that speech-language pathologists can use in the assessment of speech motor control. It can support clinicians in identifying speech motor difficulties in preschool and school-age children, set appropriate goals, and potentially measure changes in these goals across time and/or after intervention.

Keywords

motor speech disorders, assessment, probe word list, preschool children, school-age children

Link to Publisher Version (URL)

10.1044/2020_AJSLP-20-00139

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