The Sound Start Study is a research project funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grant and conducted by researchers from Charles Sturt University, The University of Sydney, and The University of the West of England. This study was conducted 2013-2015. The final newsletter for the project is available here. The main results from the study are available here.
The Sound Start Study focused on 4- to 5-year-old children who were attending preschool. The main aims of this study were to investigate the speech skills of 4- to 5-year-old children and to determine the effectiveness of the innovative computer program, Phoneme Factory Sound Sorter (PFSS) as an intervention for preschool children with speech difficulties. Development of the Australian version of PFSS was supported by the Rural and Distance Education team from the New South Wales Department of Education and Communities (DEC).
The easy and successful acquisition of literacy requires children to enter school with competent speech, language, and pre-literacy skills. Up to one in five Australian preschoolers has speech difficulties (speech sound disorder), which will affect 30% to 77% of these children's literacy acquisition if it persists into the school years. Without specialist services, these children face increased risk of life-long social, educational, and vocational limitations. Children may be impeded from accessing specialist services because of
The overarching aim of this project was to determine the effectiveness of an innovative computer-based intervention in assisting children with speech impairment to develop age appropriate speech and pre-literacy skills to decrease the risk of later speech and reading difficulties. This was achieved through
This research compared the development of children with speech difficulties who participate in typical classroom practices with children involved in typical classroom practice and using PFSS. The research had six stages, with each stage being repeated annually for three years (2013, 2014, 2015) with a different group of children, caregivers, and educators each year.
All data collection of the Sound Start Study is now complete. During 2015 and 2016 we will be working to analyse the data.
This project is an interdisciplinary venture that draws on both the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace, 2009) and the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health – Children and Youth (ICF-CY; World Health Organization, 2007). The findings of this research will provide insights into intervention for children with speech difficulties in preschool settings and the underlying nature of speech difficulties in children.
Australian Government Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations. (2009). Belonging, being and becoming: The early years learning framework for Australia. Canberra, Australia: Commonwealth of Australia.
World Health Organization. (2007). International classification of functioning, disability and health: Children and youth version (ICF-CY). Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.