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Speech production and literacy in students with intellectual disabilities and communication difficulties

Publicerad:4 mars
Uppdaterad:15 april

Jenny Samuelsson har undersökt sambanden mellan talproduktion och läsfärdigheter och den potentiella påverkan av digital läsintervention hos elever med funktionsnedsättningar och kommunikationssvårigheter.


Jenny Samuelsson


Gunilla Thunberg, Göteborgs universitet Emil Holmer, Linköpings universitet Jakob Åsberg Johnels, Göteborgs universitet


Professor Karen Erickson, Department of Health Sciences, University of North Carolina

Disputerat vid

Göteborgs universitet



Abstract in English

Many individuals with intellectual disabilities have difficulties with spoken communication and literacy learning leading to vulnerability. It has been suggested that interventions to promote reading in this group not only influence literacy acquisition but may also have an impact on speech and language development. The overall aim of this thesis was to examine the associations between speech production and literacy skills in students with intellectual disabilities and communication difficulties and to investigate the potential impact of a literacy intervention on speech production from the perspectives of both teachers and students with intellectual disabilities and communication difficulties themselves and by comparing test data before and after intervention. A literacy intervention was conducted with 137 students, aged 7-21. All students had intellectual disabilities, communication difficulties, and were unable to phonetically decode words or comprehend more than 20 words. The literacy intervention compared three different teaching approaches using digital applications, (phonics, comprehension-based and a combination of both approaches) with teaching-as-usual. Study I Associations analysed test data before intervention and found that early literacy skills accounted for 26% of the variance in speech sound production. Study II Students’ views presented the students’ positive and negative views on speech and reading activities using the visual framework Talking Mats and found that these ratings correlated with test results. Study III Teachers’ views presented thematically analysed interviews with teachers in the combined intervention group showing that the teachers reported improvements in both literacy skills and communication for some of the students and emphasized the importance of providing structured and focused literacy instruction for these students. Study IV Intervention statistically investigated the effect of literacy intervention on speech sound production indicating that literacy intervention may have secondary effects. In conclusion, this thesis shows that there is an association between speech sound production and early literacy skills and suggests that literacy intervention may have secondary effects on speech production in students with ID and communication difficulties, although future research is needed to confirm this.

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