Comparing classroom spelling lists and sound-specific digital flashcards as therapy materials for first graders with speech sound disorders


May 2023

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School-based speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are charged with minimizing the negative educational impact of their students' speech sound disorders (SSDs) (Ehren, 2000; Wallach, 2009, 2014). Current studies on SSDs in children are rich with discussions of therapy-and child-level contributions to gains in speech sound production (Byers et al., 2021; Farquharson et al., 2020; Jesus et al., 2019; Namasivayam et al., 2019; Preston et al., 2019; Rehfeld & Sulak, 2021). However, while many studies have supported using curricular content during language interventions (Ehren, 2009; Wallach, 2014; Wallach et al., 2009), there is little theoretical and no empirical evidence to demonstrate that using academically integrated therapy materials (AITM) during intervention provides a positive educational impact for students with SSDs. The purpose of this study was to determine if the materials used during school-based speech therapy could impact spelling performance in the classroom. In addition, the study sought to determine if there were differences noted in speech sound production performance when AITM vs. CATM (commercially available therapy materials) were utilized in business-as-usual therapy. Five first grade students with moderate to severe SSDs participated in this study. A single participant, alternating treatment design was used to compare the effectiveness of using AITM and CATM during intervention for SSDs. For spelling performance, results from quantitative and qualitative measures (visual inspection of the data, calculation of a d-statistic, Percentage of Nonoverlapping Data (PND), a pre-and post-test spelling assessment, and teacher/student social validity questionnaires) were varied with four out of five participants demonstrating gains in spelling on at least one measure. When comparing the relative effects of the two therapy materials on speech sound production in the classroom, quantitative and qualitative data indicated that speech sound production was better for four out of five participants when AITM were used during intervention. This early feasibility study sought to examine data on the potential academic impact of materials used during speech intervention. Results indicated that further study is warranted on the use of AITM during intervention with speech sound disorders, specifically the impact on interprofessional practices and the workloads of school-based SLPs.



Health Sciences, Speech Pathology