The present investigation studied the speech production and phonological skills of 6 children between the ages of 2;8 and 6;8 (years;months) who had undergone tracheostomy before age 8 months. Each child's speech was analyzed for size and composition of phonetic inventory, use of phonological processes, production of vowels, and production of the voicing contrast for stops. Analyses were completed once consistent air support for vocalization was established for each child and 3 months after that date. This study highlights the slow development of sound acquisition, vowel production, and the distinction between voiced and voiceless stops for some, but not all, children with a history of tracheostomy. Each child exhibited his or her own pattern of speech production difficulties on four tasks. Excessive use of inappropriate phonological processes relative to age was the most prevalent speech production problem. Five of 6 subjects exhibited clinically significant use of Stridency Deletion, Liquid Deviation, and/or Cluster Reduction. Adjustments were noted in the speech of all subjects during a 3-month period.
KEY WORDS: tracheostomy, phonology, voice onset time, formant frequency, articulation
Submitted on January 12, 1998
Accepted on August 25, 1998