What is it about?

Consonant and vowel distortions don't change the meaning of words they way phonemic errors often do. Instead, they sound like incorrect speech sound versions. The presence of sound distortions is an important criterion for diagnosing apraxia of speech. This was our fourth study about hearing consonant and vowel distortions in apraxia of speech. We examined speech samples from 24 stroke survivors with clinically diagnosed apraxia of speech plus aphasia. Our coders were highly trained and equipped with audio recordings, headphones, and a narrow phonetic transcription system that included 12 diacritic marks.

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Why is it important?

The results were similar to our two earlier studies that used a single quantitative speech criterion to approximate apraxia of speech diagnosis. Since the results were the same, we can be more and more confident about our conclusions: 1) Error frequencies vary a lot from speaker to speaker and this complicates differential diagnosis; 2) Certain articulatory distortion qualities are particularly common, so it makes sense to focus our attention on them; 3) It is probably a mistake to ignore errors that sound phonemic to our ears. They are very common, very consequential for communication, and could be caused by different impairments.


Like our two most recent studies on consonant and vowel distortions in apraxia of speech, we invested a lot of time training the coders and helping them listen very carefully to the samples. It was a good investment. It feels like we are finally ready to start working out how to measure those diagnostically important distortion errors more efficiently.:One step at a time!

Katarina L Haley
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Sound Distortion Errors in Aphasia With Apraxia of Speech, American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, February 2019, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA),
DOI: 10.1044/2018_ajslp-17-0186.
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