J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2008 February; 51(1): 97–119.
PMCID: PMC2361096NIHMSID: NIHMS44953
The Efficacy of Fast ForWord-Language Intervention in School-Age Children with Language Impairment: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Ronald B. Gillam, Diane Frome Loeb, LaVae M. Hoffman, Thomas Bohman, Craig A. Champlin, Linda Thibodeau, Judith Widen, Jayne Brandel, and Sandy Friel-Patti
Ronald B. Gillam, Utah State University;Contributor Information. The publisher’s final edited version of this article is available at J Speech Lang Hear Res. See other articles in PMC that cite the published article.
A randomized controlled trial (RCT) was conducted to compare the language and auditory processing outcomes of children assigned to Fast ForWord-Language (FFW-L) to the outcomes of children assigned to nonspecific or specific language intervention comparison treatments that did not contain modified speech.
Two hundred and sixteen children between the ages of 6 and 9 years with language impairments were randomly assigned to one of four arms: Fast ForWord-Language (FFW-L), academic enrichment (AE), computer-assisted language intervention (CALI), or individualized language intervention (ILI) provided by a speech-language pathologist. All children received 1 hour and 40 minutes of treatment, 5 days per week, for 6 weeks. Language and auditory processing measures were administered to the children by blinded examiners before treatment, immediately after treatment, 3 months after treatment, and 6 months after treatment.
The children in all four arms improved significantly on a global language test and a test of backward masking. Children with poor backward masking scores who were randomized to the FFW-L arm did not present greater improvement on the language measures than children with poor backward masking scores who were randomized to the other three arms. Effect sizes, analyses of standard error of measurement, and normalization percentages supported the clinical significance of the improvements on the CASL. There was a treatment effect for the Blending Words subtest on the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing
(Wagner, Torgesen, & Rashotte, 1999
). Participants in the FFW-L and CALI arms earned higher phonological awareness scores than children in the ILI and AE arms at the six-month follow-up testing.
Fast ForWord-Language, the language intervention that provided modified speech to address a hypothesized underlying auditory processing deficit, was not more effective at improving general language skills or temporal processing skills than a nonspecific comparison treatment (AE) or specific language intervention comparison treatments (CALI and ILI) that did not contain modified speech stimuli. These findings call into question the temporal processing hypothesis of language impairment and the hypothesized benefits of using acoustically modified speech to improve language skills. The finding that children in the three treatment arms and the active comparison arm made clinically relevant gains on measures of language and temporal auditory processing informs our understanding of the variety of intervention activities that can facilitate development.
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