Date of Award

Spring 2019

Project Type


Program or Major

Communication Sciences and Disorders

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Jill C Thorson

Second Advisor

Jill C Thorson

Third Advisor

Donald A Robin


Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder that affects the programming of spatial and temporal parameters for speech patterns, characterized by sound distortions, segmented units, and deficits with lexical stress. CAS has notable increases in the length of time between speech segments and within syllables than do children with phonological impairments or who are developing typically. This segmentation may impact prosody at the lexical level. Prosody also includes declination of the fundamental frequency (F0) and reset at the intonational level, impacting the intelligibility of speech production.

This study assessed segmentation and intonational effects on prosody across an entire utterance for 11 children with CAS and 10 typically-developing children (TD) aged 5-11-years-old. Acoustic analyses of real and non-word multisyllabic words, paired with a carrier phrase of 3-4 words, were conducted for the average inter-segment duration between and within words (ms) and average slope of F0. Stimuli were generated from Treating Establishment of Motor Program Organization (TEMPO), which targets motor speech errors in CAS (Miller et al., 2018). The current study provides a TD comparison to the CAS group from the TEMPO study prior to treatment.

Results showed CAS participants produced significantly longer inter-segment durations between words and within words. A correlation analysis concluded a strong positive relationship between inter-segment duration and number of words in the sentence. These data found F0 declination over utterances for both groups, with no detectable difference between groups. F0 change over target words did not show notable declination differences between groups. Further correlation testing suggests that as between-word duration increases, F0 regression slope over utterances flattens. Comparing speech production patterns in CAS with TD children pre- and post-treatment will better establish treatment efficacy in improving the communication of children with CAS. Further data from additional participants will better differentiate prosodic intonation between TD children and children with CAS.