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This study examined the relations among expressive phonology, phonological sensitivity, and early decoding skills in children attending kindergarten through 2nd grade. Extant literature suggests that children with disordered speech may be at additional risk for reading difficulties; however, due to methodological shortcomings, findings from previous research are questionable. A total of 140 children between the ages of 5- and 8-years of age were randomly selected from a pool of 392 children recruited from local schools to participate in assessments involving oral language, expressive phonology, phonological sensitivity, and early decoding skills. Results from correlational analyses revealed significant relations between most measures of phonological sensitivity, expressive phonology, and decoding skills, even after partialling out variance common to oral language. Additionally, results from simultaneous multiple regression analyses demonstrated that the Phonological Sensitivity, Lexical Access and Multisyllabic speech production jointly predicted early decoding skills (ÄR2 = .34). Phonological Memory and single-naming speech production did not. Additionally, Phonological Sensitivity, Lexical Access, and Multisyllabic speech production each predicted unique variance in Decoding. Finally, hierarchical multiple regression results indicated that whereas for the youngest group of children, those with poorer speech skills (as measured by multisyllabic word productions) or poorer phonological sensitivity skills also displayed poorer decoding skills, this relation was not found to be significant for the older children. Age did not moderate the relations between Lexical Access and Decoding. Results support extant literature suggesting that reading deficits stem from an underlying phonological deficit and that speech may serve as an early indicator of potential reading problems. Clinical implications include the need to use more sensitive, complex expressive phonological measures and to incorporate exposure to written language into speech therapy sessions. Additionally, future research should focus on extending current findings by examining the relations among speech and reading in a longitudinal nature.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Communication Disorders in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Howard Goldstein, Professor Directing Dissertation; Christopher Lonigan, Outside Committee Member; Lisa Trautman, Committee Member; Juliann Woods, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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