Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of sentence length on intelligibility in two groups of older children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Method: Nine children diagnosed with cerebral palsy (CP) and eight children diagnosed with Down syndrome (DS), between the ages of 8 and 17 years, repeated sentences varying in length from two to seven words. Three hundred forty adult listeners (20 listeners per child) provided orthographic transcriptions of children’s speech, which were used to calculate intelligibility scores. Results: There was a significant main effect of sentence length on intelligibility for children with CP. Intelligibility significantly increased from two-and three-word sentences to four-, five-, and six-word sentences, then significantly decreased from four-, five-, and six-word sentences to seven-word sentences. There was a main effect of sentence length on intelligibility for children with DS. Intelligibility significantly increased from two-word sentences to four-, five-, and six-word sentences. Conclusions: The primary findings of this study include the following: (a) Unlike in typically developing children, sentence length continues to influence intellig-ibility well into adolescence for children with neurodevelopmental disorders, and (b) sentence length may influence intelligibility differently in children with CP than in children with DS; however, other factors besides the type of neurodeve-lopmental disorder (e.g., severity of speech motor involvement and/or cognitive–linguistic impairment) could play a role in the relationship between sentence length and intelligibility and must be investigated in future studies.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Linguistics and Language
- Speech and Hearing