Fricative contrast and coarticulation in children with and without speech sound disorders

Edwin Maas, Marja Liisa Mailend

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study was, first, to expand our understanding of typical speech development regarding segmental contrast and anticipatory coarticulation, and second, to explore the potential diagnostic utility of acoustic measures of fricative contrast and anticipatory coarticulation in children with speech sound disorders (SSD). Method: In a cross-sectional design, 10 adults, 17 typically developing children, and 11 children with SSD repeated carrier phrases with novel words with fricatives (/s/,/ʃ/). Dependent measures were 2 ratios derived from spectral mean, obtained from perceptually accurate tokens. Group analyses compared adults and typically developing children; individual children with SSD were compared to their respective typically developing peers. Results: Typically developing children demonstrated smaller fricative acoustic contrast than adults but similar coarticulatory patterns. Three children with SSD showed smaller fricative acoustic contrast than their typically developing peers, and 2 children showed abnormal coarticulation. The 2 children with abnormal coarticulation both had a clinical diagnosis of childhood apraxia of speech; no clear pattern was evident regarding SSD subtype for smaller fricative contrast. Conclusions: Children have not reached adult-like speech motor control for fricative production by age 10 even when fricatives are perceptually accurate. Present findings also suggest that abnormal coarticulation but not reduced fricative contrast is SSD-subtype–specific.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)649-663
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican journal of speech-language pathology
Issue number2Special Issue
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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