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Correcting speech problems in children

May 13, 2013

A speech programme, which concentrates on visual speech perception, is the latest addition to the ARROW learning system.  The new speech programme is designed to develop the speech of both children and adults with speech problems for those who may have special needs such as Down’s syndrome, autism and the hearing impaired who may have issues with basic speech articulation. 

Cornelia Bonterre, head tutor and consultant at ARROW, which is an acronym for Aural, Read, Respond, Oral, Write, said the new speech programme has benefits that include improvement in muscular reactions in producing sounds and overall influencing brain regions used to produce speech resulting in greater clarity as well as influencing the auditory brain. 

Lip-reading or speech-reading is a major aspect of speech therapy. 

Bonterre explained: “Research shows in most situations that we lip-read from a talkers tongue, teeth, eyes, mouth, jaw, cheeks, head and even eyebrows. Lip-reading or speech reading influences the auditory brain as well as the brain regions used to produce speech. Lip-reading also induces activity in corresponding muscles (the McGurk effect). Speech perception on its own is a multi-sensory function,” Bonterre said.

The pilot programme was tested on children as early as three and up. 

The programme has been successfully tested on a group of seven children who were placed on the programme. Bonterre said success was evident within a couple of hours.

 “I’ve been working with a group of children on the programme and we’ve seen vast improvement within three hours. We did half-hour sessions and they immediately began to master certain speech sounds that they could not utter before.  The programme is designed for children to be able to speak sentences intelligibly. There are children who speak, but not intelligible. We are starting with individual speech sound. Some children can utter all the sounds in the speech family so they just need to have therapy.”  

Bonterre said while some children speak sentences their difficulty lies in basic articulation and clarity. There are children who are unable to utter more than one syllable at the same time. 

“For example, if I was to ask one of my students to say ‘lazy’, that student would only say only the last part of the word. Now, because of the programme the student is able to say double-syllable words.  The student is also starting to improve on multiple-word sentences whereas normally would only repeat the last word within a sentence.”

She went on, “We have had some positive feedback from parents whose children are more conversational and vocal at home.”   

ARROW literacy has been proven to significantly increase not only reading skills and performance, it also improves spelling, concentration, self-esteem, speech, confidence and motivation in pupils.

The new Advanced Speech Programme concentrates on visual speech perception.