BACKGROUND: Recent research has shown that phonological awareness therapy can improve speech production in children with expressive phonological disorders. This approach may be appealing to clinicians as the therapy may also benefit the children's general phonological abilities and lead to gains in their literacy skills.
AIMS: To examine the effectiveness of phonological awareness therapy under conditions more similar to those prevailing in many speech and language therapy clinics. Children were treated in small groups and less intensive therapy was offered than in previous studies.
METHODS & PROCEDURES: Twenty children were randomly assigned to treated and untreated groups. A pre-/post-test design was used to monitor their progress in phonological awareness, literacy and speech production. Children were treated in groups of three. They received 12 hours of therapy.
OUTCOMES & RESULTS: Comparisons of the groups showed that the treated group made significantly greater gains in phonological awareness. However, differences between the groups in the measures of literacy and speech production were smaller and non-significant. Considerable variation was detected in the response of individual children to the therapy.
CONCLUSIONS: The results show the effectiveness of phonological awareness therapy in benefiting children's general phonological skills. However, the comparison of these and previous findings suggest that children may require more therapy than is often available if literacy and speech production are also to benefit. Further research is required to confirm the duration and intensity of therapy required. Until such information is available, clinicians might want to take a cautious approach and combine therapies that target phonological awareness with more traditional approaches, that target speech production more directly.
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