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Speechreading, Phonological Skills, and Word Reading Ability in Children.

PURPOSE: The purpose of the present study was to investigate the relationship between speechreading ability, phonological skills, and word reading ability in typically developing children.

METHOD: Sixty-six typically developing children (6-7 years old) completed tasks measuring word reading, speechreading (words, sentences, and short stories), alliteration awareness, rhyme awareness, nonword reading, and rapid automatized naming (RAN).

RESULTS: Speechreading ability was significantly correlated with rhyme and alliteration awareness, phonological error rate, nonword reading, and reading ability (medium effect sizes) and RAN (small effect size). Multiple regression analyses showed that speechreading was not a unique predictor of word reading ability beyond the contribution of phonological skills. A speechreading error analysis revealed that children tended to use a phonological strategy when speechreading, and in particular, this strategy was used by skilled speechreaders.

CONCLUSIONS: The current study provides converging evidence that speechreading and phonological skills are positively related in typically developing children. These skills are likely to have a reciprocal relationship, and children may benefit from having their attention drawn to visual information available on the lips while learning letter sounds or learning to read, as this could augment and strengthen underlying phonological representations.

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