Articulation Rate and Vowel Space Characteristics of Young Males With Fragile X Syndrome: Preliminary Acoustic Findings

Zajac, David J.; Roberts, Joanne E.; Hennon, Elizabeth A.; Harris, Adrianne A.; Barnes, Elizabeth F.; Misenheimer, Jan
October 2006
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Oct2006, Vol. 49 Issue 5, p1147
Academic Journal
Purpose: Increased speaking rate is a commonly reported perceptual characteristic among males with fragile X syndrome (FAXES). The objective of this preliminary study was to determine articulation rate--one component of perceived speaking rate--and vowel space characteristics of young males with FAXES. Method: Young males with FAXES (an = 38), developmental age (DA)-matched males (an = 21), and chronological age (CA)-matched males (n = 16) were audiotaped while engaged in spontaneous conversation and a picture-naming task. Articulation rate in syllables per second during intelligible utterances and vowel space area/dispersion measures were acoustically determined for each speaker. Results: Males with FXS did not articulate significantly faster than CA-matched males. Area and dispersion of the acoustic vowel space also were similar between the 2 groups. Males with FXS, however, used significantly shorter utterances and had a tendency to pause less often than CA-matched males. In addition, males with FXS exhibited greater intraspeaker variability of formants associated with the vowel /a/. Conclusions: These preliminary findings suggest that articulation rate may not be a primary factor contributing to perceived speaking rate of males with FXS. Limitations of the study relative to speech production tasks and utterance intelligibility are discussed.


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