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Effective Interventions for the Treatment of Speech Sound Disorders

Susan Rvachew, Ph.D., S-LP ©, School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, McGill University
Published online 08-30-06 in the Canadian Language & Literacy Research Network in their Encyclopedia of Language and Literacy Development
Children with a primary Speech Sound Disorder (SSD) of unknown origin make more errors in pronunciation than expected for their age, and the errors are not caused by other disorders such as hearing impairment, cleft palate, or cerebral palsy (Shriberg, Austin, Lewis, & McSweeny, 1997). Children with this kind of speech problem should be treated by a speech-language pathologist (SLP). Most of the children who are treated by SLPs have some form of SSD (Broomfield & Dodd, 2004). SSD develops during childhood and can persist for many years after diagnosis (Law, Boyle, Harris, Harkness, & Nye, 2000). Children with an SSD are at-risk for social problems and are often bullied at school (Hall, 1991; Silverman, 1992). They may also have trouble at school because of poor phonological awareness and weak reading skills (Bird, Bishop, & Freeman, 1995; Catts, 1993; Larrivee & Catts, 1999; Lewis, Freebairn, & Taylor, 2000; Raitano, Pennington, Tunick, Boada, & Shriberg, 2004; Rvachew & Grawburg, 2006; Rvachew, Ohberg, Grawburg, & Heyding, 2003; Shriberg & Kwiatkowski, 1988; Webster & Plante, 1992; Webster, Plante, & Couvillion, 1997). In turn, these difficulties have an impact on employment opportunities in adulthood (Felsenfeld, Broen, & McGue, 1994). Given the social and economic cost of speech difficulties for individuals with SSD and society at large, it is important to identify the most effective and efficient speech therapy practices for the treatment of SSD.
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