Electropalatography: Can it lead to long-term improvements in the speech of children with Down's syndrome?
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(2016) Electropalatography: Can it lead to long-term improvements in the speech of children with Down's syndrome?, no. 101.
Children with Down's syndrome tend to produce a high number of speech sound errors (Stoel-Gammon, 2001), which can lead to frustration, behaviour difficulties, academic failure and social exclusion. Their speech tends to be resistant to traditional methods of speech therapy (Gibbon, McNeill, Wood & Watson, 2003), therefore, the use of electropalatography (EPG) is emerging. EPG allows clients to see their tongue-palate contact patterns on a computer screen during an articulation. It is a form of visual feedback and is expected to be beneficial for those with Down's syndrome due to this population having a preference for visual learning. However, it is an expensive tool and requires sufficient evidence to confirm its efficacy. This study attempts to explore the long-term benefits of EPG. It looked at nine children with Down's syndrome, age nine to eighteen years, who had been randomly allocated into three groups. One group received 24 sessions of EPG therapy, another received 24 sessions of traditional therapy, and the final group received no therapy. All children had been identified as having difficulty with sibilants at the start of the study. Perceptual and EPG measures were taken pre-therapy, post-therapy, and at two long-term time points: three months post-therapy and six months post-therapy. All three groups showed improvements immediately post-therapy. The EPG group continued to make gains in percentage consonants correct (PCC) and accuracy of /s/ in the six months post-therapy, but lost the original gains in accuracy of /ʃ/. The traditional group showed the reverse results. It therefore seems that EPG can lead to long-term improvements in certain phonemes, but /ʃ/ may require more input for EPG therapy to be effective. Further research is required, however, this study provides preliminary data suggesting that EPG may be beneficial for certain children with Down's syndrome over a long-term period.