Speech fluency profile in Williams-Beuren syndrome: a preliminary study

BACKGROUND: the speech fluency pattern attributed to individuals with Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS) is supported by the effectiveness of the phonological loop. Some studies have reported the occurrence of speech disruptions caused by lexical and semantic deficits. However, the type and frequency of such speech disruptions has not been well elucidated. AIM: to determine the speech fluency profile of individuals with WBS and to compare the speech performance of these individuals to a control group matched by gender and mental age. METHOD: Twelve subjects with Williams-Beuren syndrome, chronologically aged between 6.6 and 23.6 years and mental age ranging from 4.8 to 14.3 years, were evaluated. They were compared with another group consisting of 12 subjects with similar mental age and with no speech or learning difficulties. Speech fluency parameters were assessed according to the ABFW Language Test: type and frequency of speech disruptions and speech rate. The obtained results were compared between the groups. RESULTS: In comparison with individuals of similar mental age and typical speech and language development, the group with Williams-Beuren syndrome showed a greater percentage of speech discontinuity, and an increased frequency of common hesitations and word repetition. CONCLUSION: The speech fluency profile presented by individuals with WBS in this study suggests that the presence of disfluencies can be caused by deficits in the lexical, semantic, and syntactic processing of verbal information. The authors stress that further systematic investigations on the subject are warranted.

Williams-Beuren Syndrome; Speech Production Measurement; Language

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