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However, this is quite different when it comes to acquiring the speech sound intelligibility which now determines how the child makes the right combination of correct sounds and errors for their age. Note that this is a critical period in gaining the intelligence of communication but it greatly depends on the first critical period where the infants gets familiar with consonant perception. The table below shows the rough rule of thumb for how clearly the child should be speaking.
How well words can be understood by parents
By 24 months a child's speech is normally 50 -75% intelligible
By 36 months a child's speech is normally 75-100% intelligible
Source: Lynch, J.I., Brookshire, B.L., and Fox, D.R. (1980). A Parent - Child Cleft Palate Curriculum: Developing Speech and Language. CC Publications, Oregon. Page 102
Therefore, the critical period in gaining sound intelligibility in infants is between the 24 months and 36months as shown in the table above but as mentioned earlier, this greatly depends on the consonant perception period, which is between three months and one year.
The impact of hearing loss on speech development
It is no doubt that hearing is very significant to speech and language development communication, and learning. Infants with listening difficulties due to auditory processing problems or hearing loss end up being underserved and under-identified population. The earlier the child develops hearing loss the more significant the effects occur on the child’s development. On the other hand, the earlier the problem is recognized and interventions laid down, the less significant the ultimate impact becomes (Wacyk & Zundel, 1990). However, the hearing loss affects the children in four main ways which are; causing delay in expressive communication skills and receptive communication (language and speech) development, learning problems that bring about limitation of academic achievement, leading to social isolation and poor self concept ad lastly having impact on the vocational or career choices. After realizing this effects, it is also important to recognize the signs of hearing loss which may help the parents to take necessary action as soon as possible in order to help the infant to function normally. Therefore, the child may have hearing loss if he of she; usually fails to respond when spoken to quietly, understands or speaks few words, pays little attention to verbal and sound cues, rarely responds to music, has hard time in noticing sounds that comes from side or behind and when the child cannot seem to hear the tone . He or she is not able to tell whether the person speaking is angry or happy (Hillenbrand, Clark &Nearey, 2001). Other signs include difficulty in telling the difference between similar-sounding words like store and door as well as the words beginning with f, s, or sh, tends to favor one ear when turning towards a certain sound, is unable to detect low sounds like ticking of the clock, wants the TV, radio or tape player volume to be very high.
Stages of speech development and the articulatory, auditory and linguistic processes involved
Articulation refers to the general word used in phonetics to indicate the physiological movements entailed in modifying the flow of air in the vocal tract above the larynx, in order to be able to produce several speech sounds. This means that sounds are categorized according to the manner and place of articulation in the vocal mechanism. Articulation development and phonetic development refers to children’s slow gaining of the ability to create individual speech sounds. The articulatory phonetics field is a phonetics subfield (Nygaard & Pisoni, 1995). The articulatory phoneticians attempt to document different vocal structures well known as the articulators such as the teeth, lips, tongue, jaw and many others which interact to create specific sounds. Auditory phonetics is a phonetic branch concerned with the acquisition, hearing and phonetic sounds comprehension of words of language. The explosion of sound production by articulatory phonetics, auditory phonetics explores the methods of reception, which include process like ear to brain. Acoustic phonetics is as well a phonetic subfield, which contract with acoustic aspects of speech sounds. This examines properties such as the waveforms’ amplitude mean squared, its time limit, its main frequency or other frequency spectrum and the properties relationship to other branches of phonetics as well as to the abstract linguistic notions like phrases, utterances or phones. Therefore, it is clear that the stages of speech development depend on the phonetic articulation processes identified above. These stages thus include consonance perception, utterances phonological development, phrase development and speech sound intelligibility. After all these stages, the children are now able to communicate fluently with precise speech sounds.
Integration of auditory and visual information from lip-reading in speech development
When in the speech perception process, the aptitude to put together visual and auditory information leads the speech to sound louder and be more intelligible that in turn leads to faster processing (Smith & Benneto, 2007). The process of putting together the auditory and visual information is crucial in early language development as well as goes on to affect the comprehension of speech throughout the lifespan of the child. The initial research reveals that people with autism have problems putting together information specifically across multiple sensory domains. The current study on the other hand shows that the audiovisual speech integration was examined in eighteen adolescent with elevated functioning autism and nineteen well-arranged adolescents with normal development using the speech in noise example. The reception of speech thresholds for auditory only were calculated and the audiovisual matched speech, and the lip-reading capability gauged. The results showed that the individuals with autism revealed limited benefit from the totting up of visual information in audiovisual perception. The results also showed that the autism individuals were worse at lip reading in comparison to those in the other group. The weakening of the pecking order showed that group audiovisual condition differences when powered by auditory perception and especially by lip-reading, were as well characterized to a distinct factor that mirrors a precise shortfall in putting together the audiovisual (Gocken, & Fox, 2001). The combination of shortfalls in audiovisual speech addition and lip-reading in people with autism are likely to add to ongoing difficulties in speech comprehension, and they may as well be connected to delays in early language development.
Separation of speech from background noise
There was a study carried out to examine the users of cochlear implant (CI) perceptual segregation of speech from the background noise with distinct electrode separation degrees between noise and speech (Nygaard & Pisoni, 1995). There were eleven nuclear CI system users tested on identification of consonant using the multi-stream processing experiment whereby speech and noise sensitivity were processed differently and sprinkled. The speech presentation was done to either six electrodes (every fourth electrode) or ten electrodes (every other electrode) whereby the noise was grounded to either different electrode set (interlaced condition) or the same electrodes (overlapped condition) ant the electrodes for both speech and noise separated by one-and two-electrode spacing for the six-and ten-electrode presentations respectively. The outcome showed that a slight but massively important improvement in consonant recognition (5%-10%) in the interweave condition with a two-electrode spacing (approximately 1.1 mm) in two subjects. It comes out clear that the outcomes were powered by interactions by the peripheral channels, slightly explaining the individual variability. In general, the study showed that the performance of the CI users on segregating the focus from the backdrop which may modified if the sounds were presented with enough peripheral separation. Keep in mind that identification of the background noise can as well be done using the blind signal separation (Kuhl, 2004). This can be done through suppressing the speech component after separating all the other components. The blind signal separation (BSS) avoids the scale indeterminacy using the projection back method. The results shows that there is a slight improvement in consonant recognition by about 6 to 11 percent meaning that if the method can be modified then the end results can be great and clearly show the distinct separation between speech and background noise.
Importance of developing speech communication in infancy and early childhood
Speech development in early children is very important because like any other person, it helps them pass an important message to their mothers or caretakers who then go ahead to take appropriate action. For example, when an infant cries he passes a message that either he is hungry and should be given food or he is hurt in one way or the other whereby he may be sick as well. Therefore, the parent or caretaker will take the necessary action to make sure the baby stops crying proving that he has communicated and heard. This shows that speech sound is a very special concept in communication among the infants and early childhood. Speech communication in infants and early childhood is crucial as it helps them during the process of learning; writing and reading as well as career choices when they become youths. Speech communication is also important in brain development process which also determines how brilliant and sharp the child will be. For example, the process of brain development includes physical development, language development, visual and auditory development and emotional and social development (Diane, 1998). This shows that speech communication also plays a major part in brain development as it encompasses language and visual and auditory developments. Therefore, there is no doubt that speech is a very crucial component in children development.