Konferenser och symposier Gästföreläsning: Sara Wood

2022-06-16 16:00 - 17:30 Add to iCal

Speech in Down’s Syndrome: Research Findings and Wider Issues

Join via Zoom: https://ki-se.zoom.us/j/66168572445

Dr. Sara Wood

Speech and Hearing Sciences Division
Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh


Down’s syndrome is the most common genetic cause of mild to moderate learning difficulties, affecting 1 in every 1000 live births in the UK.  The speech skills of individuals with Down’s syndrome are poorer than would be anticipated in relation to both their general cognitive ability and their skills in expressive language. These specific difficulties in speech production can lead to significantly reduced intelligibility which in turn affects the ability to communicate effectively.  This often places considerable constraints on educational progress, affects friendship formation and impedes integration into the wider community. The specific speech production difficulties encountered by individuals with Down’s syndrome are often considered to be intractable as they have proved resistant to conventional methods of intervention delivered by speech and language therapists. These difficulties persist into adulthood which can negatively impact life outcomes, affect employability and contribute to social exclusion.

Electropalatography (EPG) is a long-established tool for clinical and non-clinical speech research.  It records details of the location and timing of tongue contacts with the hard palate during speech.  EPG is a particularly valuable diagnostic tool in a clinical setting because it provides objective and detailed analysis of the speaker’s articulatory patterns and may identify errors which cannot be detected by perceptual analysis alone yet are vital for accurate diagnosis and subsequent intervention.  It has also proven to be effective as a visual biofeedback technique for treating articulation disorders that have failed to respond to conventional therapy approaches in a wide range of disorders. However its use with individuals with intellectual disabilities and speech disorders has been limited. 

In this seminar I will present the main findings from a number of research studies conducted at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, which have used EPG to treat speech disorders in Down’s syndrome.  The challenges that EPG presents and a proposed alternative visual biofeedback technique, ultrasound, will be considered for future research with this population. The recent passing of the Down Syndrome Act, 2022, in the UK, has put the spotlight on the needs of individuals with Down’s syndrome which necessitates continued consideration and development of interventions to target speech production.