Using movement homework activities to enhance the phonological skills of children whose primary communication difficulty is a phonological disorder.
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Students who have been classified with a Speech-Language Impairment (SI) are eligible to receive special education services within the U.S. school system. The classification of children with SI is generally categorized into two groups: Those with language impairments (receptive and expressive) or those with speech impairments (e.g., articulation, fluency, voice, phonological). The focus of this dissertation was on phonological disorders, which are one of the most common speech impairments treated during preschool years. It has been reported that up to 20% of all preschool children in the U.S. can be described as having noticeable phonological problems (McKinnon, McLeod, & Reilly, 2007). There are several concerns to be considered when choosing and applying a therapeutic approach when teaching preschool children with phonological processing disorders. First, a lack of progress is noted when the treatment lacks adequate opportunities for practice (number of trials or responses per session and minimal number of sessions). Second, a preschool child does not receive developmentally appropriate treatment; in other words, the application of therapeutic approaches is not modified to fit the audience (e.g., cycles approach). Third, a preschool child naturally has short attention spans and often benefit from gross motor movement (Gallahue & Cleland-Donnelly, 2003). In view of these concerns, the motor domain may be used as a medium to enhance the phonological skills of preschool children. The purpose of this investigation was to determine the effect of Gross Motor Activity Homework on the phonological skills of preschool children whose primary communication difficulty is a phonological disorder. Three different homework groups were compared: (a) Gross Motor Activity Homework, (b) Structured Table Activity Homework, and (c) Structured Table Activities with Letter-Tracing Homework. Participants were 30 students (26 males, 4 females, M age = 4 years, 5 months, age range: 3.6 - 5.3 years). Children were purposefully selected, and then were randomly assigned to one of three groups (10 in each group). Pretest measures were compared to posttest measures after a 12 week intervention phase that consisted of the participants completing homework assignments with their parents 5 times a week. Based on the analysis of the data, improvement in phonological skill performance was therefore evident for all three groups across the interventions.