Toward Diagnostic and Phenotype Markers for Genetically Transmitted Speech Delay

Shriberg, Lawrence D.; Lewis, Barbara A.; Tomblin, J. Bruce; McSweeny, Jane L.; Karlsson, Heather B.; Scheer, Alison R.
August 2005
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Aug2005, Vol. 48 Issue 4, p834
Academic Journal
Converging evidence supports the hypothesis that the most common subtype of childhood speech sound disorder (SSD) of currently unknown origin is genetically transmitted. We report the first findings toward a set of diagnostic markers to differentiate this proposed etiological subtype (provisionally termed speech delay-genetic) from other proposed subtypes of SSD of unknown origin. Conversational speech samples from 72 preschool children with speech delay of unknown origin from 3 research centers were selected from an audio archive. Participants differed on the number of biological, nuclear family members (0 or 2+) classified as positive for current and/or prior speech-language disorder. Although participants in the 2 groups were found to have similar speech competence, as indexed by their Percentage of Consonants Correct scores, their speech error patterns differed significantly in 3 ways. Compared with children who may have reduced genetic load for speech delay (no affected nuclear family members), children with possibly higher genetic load (2+ affected members) had (a) a significantly higher proportion of relative omission errors on the Late-8 consonants; (b) a significantly lower proportion of relative distortion errors on these consonants, particularly on the sibilant fricatives /s/, /z/, and /∫/; and (c) a significantly lower proportion of backed /s/ distortions, as assessed by both perceptual and acoustic methods. Machine learning routines identified a 3-part classification rule that included differential weightings of these variables. The classification rule had diagnostic accuracy value of 0.83 (95% confidence limits = 0.74-0.92), with positive and negative likelihood ratios of 9.6 (95% confidence limits = 3.1-29.9) and 0.40 (95% confidence limits = 0.24-0.68), respectively. The diagnostic accuracy findings are viewed as promising. The error pattern for this proposed subtype of SSD is viewed as consistent with the cognitive-linguistic processing deficits that have been reported for genetically transmitted verbal disorders.


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