Down Syndrome Speech Intelligibility Diagnostic Treatment Study

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University of Wisconsin (UW)




Down Syndrome


Behavioral: Speech therapy addressing phonology and motor learning

Study type


Funder types



Protocol Version 12/10/2019 (Other Identifier)
A348700 (Other Identifier)

Details and patient eligibility


This Down Syndrome (DS) speech intelligibility diagnostic treatment study is a pilot clinical intervention study assessing the efficacy of a speech treatment approach for male participants with DS between the ages of 7-16 years.

Full description

This Down Syndrome (DS) speech intelligibility diagnostic treatment study is a pilot clinical intervention study assessing the efficacy of an integrative speech treatment approach for individuals with DS. DS is a common genetic disorder that causes lifelong intellectual disability where speech intelligibility is typically compromised affecting quality of life. The clinical management of communication disorders in individuals with DS is a priority for NIH's National Institute on Deafness and Other Communicative Disorder. The proposed treatment addresses the void in speech intervention and is based on our Vocal Tract Development Laboratory's (VTLab) research findings on anatomic, acoustic and perceptual studies from speakers with DS. Having identified specific difficulties in the production and perception of select vowels, this treatment focuses on accurate vowel production, while combining and adapting two established speech treatment approaches on articulatory accuracy and motor learning. The articulatory treatment uses the cycles phonological approach and the motor learning treatment is script training. Findings from this clinical intervention study are expected to pave the path towards optimal management of speech intelligibility in speakers with DS. The current pilot study is open to males based on findings from our lab's research that males are less intelligible than their female peers. The investigators also expect findings to provide the preliminary data needed to bridge the gap towards an exploratory clinical research proposal on functional anatomy as an intervention strategy for both males and females.


3 patients




7 to 16 years old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Males with a diagnosis of Down syndrome between the ages of 7 and 16 years
  • Primary language is English
  • Interested in improving their speech intelligibility.
  • All participants must consent/assent to participate. As this is a multiple single subject design, services are available to all motivated participants who are willing to commit to the time/durations described in the diagnostic treatment.

Exclusion criteria

  • Primary language is not American English
  • Do not have a diagnosis of Down syndrome
  • Female
  • Ages birth-6 and 17 years or older
  • Individuals who have a co-occurring diagnosis that affects communication abilities [e.g., diagnosed as deaf with cochlear implants, Autism, only use an alternative/augmentative communication (AAC) device to communicate],

Severe hearing loss which will limit their ability to participate in the treatment

Individuals with a known mild or moderate hearing loss or current speech- language therapy services will not be excluded, but this information will be requested in the Parent Questionnaire. In addition, access to their current individualized education program (IEP) will be requested.

Trial design

3 participants in 1 patient group

Speech therapy
Experimental group
Direct speech therapy will be provided for a 12 week period with up to three one-hour sessions per week.
Behavioral: Speech therapy addressing phonology and motor learning

Trial contacts and locations



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