Title of Research Grant

The perceptual speech characteristics of individuals with Down syndrome

Researcher

Harrison N. Jones, PhD
Department of Surgery, Division of Speech Pathology & Audiology
Assistant Professor
Director, Motor Speech Disorders Program
Duke University

Lay Summary of Projected Project

Down syndrome (DS) is the most common chromosomal condition associated with intellectual impairment and developmental disability in infants and children. The perceptual (or auditory) speech characteristics associated with many medical conditions are well described, though no such description is available for individuals with DS. This is problematic considering that perceptual assessment is considered to be the “gold standard” for the evaluation and treatment of speech disorders, as well as for advancing scientific efforts in this area. The proposed study will use established methods for the perceptual assessment of speech disorders in adults and apply it to individuals with DS. Thirty individuals ages 8 and above with DS will complete a variety of speech tasks which will be audio-recorded using high-quality equipment and sophisticated recording techniques. Digital sound files will be listened to by three speech-language pathologist expert listeners to determine the presence or absence of 38 speech characteristics and their severity. This study will allow for the first comprehensive perceptual description of the speech disorders of individuals with DS. Furthermore, this project will further the scientific understanding of speech disorders in DS and stimulate further research, leading to improvements in the evaluation and treatment of speech disorders and the optimization of functional communication.