Five Years Old Preschool Children's Motor-Verbal Skills: A Follow-Up into the First-Grade

Article excerpt

Objective :The major objective of this study was to determine the means and 95% confidence interval of normal 6 years old children's motor-verbal skills. Based on the results of this study we could develop a measure to diagnose abnormal motor skills. In addition, in this follow-up study, we compared the first-graders' motor-verbal skills to their own skills one year earlier.

Method: In this follow-up study, the development of motor-verbal skills was studied in 220 normal readers in the first-grade after 1 year. We administered naming speed test and word and phrase repetition to assess motor-verbal skills. Data were analyzed by descriptive statistic and paired t-test.

Results: The mean of the 6 years old first-graders' speed naming was 87 words per 100 second. In addition, means and standard deviations of word and phrase repetition were 8.41(2.92) and 6.51(1.73) respectively. In addition,, paired t-test showed a significant difference between naming speed, word and phrase repetition first-grade and 5 years old children score(naming speed: t=10.95, p<0.001, word repetition: t= 14.23, p<0.001, phrase repetition: t=12.11, p<0.001) .

Conclusion: In general, 5 years old children's motor-verbal skills significantly improved after one year. Furthermore, the results of this study provide the norm for speech and language pathologists and other professionals. It is important to note that if 5 years old children's motor-verbal skills are under this norm, it will be anticipated that they are at the risk of literacy problem and dyslexia.

Key words: Child, Iran, Language, Motor skills, Preschool

Iran J Psychiatry 2009; 4:160-164

Children with speech and language difficulty often have literacy-problems. These include problems with reading comprehension, reading aloud, spelling and expressive writing. The reverse is also true. Children with literacy problems often have speech and language difficulties. These present as delayed speech and language development, persisting with articulation, word finding and grammar. Some studies have demonstrated that speech, language and literacy problems co-occur and they are more common in males (1).

On the other hand, a number of studies have also attempted to identify the predictors of literacy outcome in children with speech and language difficulties. These studies have had interesting but sometimes conflicting results. Some studies report that syntax performance is a particularly good predictor of literacy outcome (2,3), while others have emphasized aspects of speech production as being the strongest predictor (4,5). Indeed it is possible that normal speech production may compensate for other weaknesses.

Before learning to read and spell, children have already established a speech processing system to deal with their spoken language. This system is also the foundation for their written language development.

Speech processing system includes semantic representation, phonological representation, motor program, grammatical representation and orthographical representation. Children with speech difficulties have one or more problems in the speech processing system. In order to produce a word, the child needs to have the components of the word assembled into the correct sequence. This motor program is a set of instructions for the pronunciation of the word sent to the mouth. Assembling new motor program is particularly difficult for children (1).

Studies which given a range of speech tasks to children with speech and literacy problems have revealed that different profiles of performance on the tasks reflect different levels of breakdown in speech processing.

Stackhouse and snowling (1992b) presented tasks of single-word naming and repetition, and non word repetition. Thus, it seems that motor-verbal skills are very important in acquiring speech and literacy; and deficiency in these skills will lead to speech and literacy problems. …