Profile of Australian preschool children with speech sound disorders at risk for literacy difficulties

Sharynne McLeod*, Kathryn Crowe, Sarah Masso, Elise Baker, Jane McCormack, Yvonne Wren, Susan Roulstone, Charlotte Howland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
1477 Downloads (Pure)


Speech sound disorders are a common communication difficulty in preschool children. Teachers indicate difficulty identifying and supporting these children. The aim of this research was to describe speech and language characteristics of children identified by their parents and/or teachers as having possible communication concerns. 275 Australian 4- to 5-year-old children from 45 preschools whose parents and teachers were concerned about their talking participated in speech-language pathology assessments to examine speech, language, literacy, non-verbal intelligence, oromotor skills and hearing. The majority (71.3%) of children demonstrated lower consonant accuracy than expected for their age, 63.9% did not pass the language-screening task, 65.5% had not been assessed and 72.4% had not received intervention from a speech-language pathologist. The 132 children who were identified with speech sound disorder (phonological impairment) were more likely to be male (62.9%) who were unintelligible to unfamiliar listeners, and had poor emergent literacy and phonological processing skills, despite having typical hearing, oral structures, and intelligence. Children identified by parents and teachers with concerns may have a range of speech, language and communication needs requiring professional support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalAustralian Journal of Learning Difficulties
Early online date7 Feb 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Feb 2017


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