Purpose - The purpose of the study was to assess the ability of children with developmental language learning impairments (LLIs) to use visual speech cues from the talking face.
Method - In this cross-sectional study, 41 typically developing children (mean age: 8 years 0 months, range: 4 years 5 months to 11 years 10 months) and 27 children with diagnosed LLI (mean age: 8 years 10 months, range: 5 years 2 months to 11 years 6 months) completed a silent speechreading task and a speech-in-noise task with and without visual support from the talking face. The speech-in-noise task involved the identification of a target word in a carrier sentence with a single competing speaker as a masker.
Results - Children in the LLI group showed a deficit in speechreading when compared with their typically developing peers. Beyond the single-word level, this deficit became more apparent in older children. On the speech-in-noise task, a substantial benefit of visual cues was found regardless of age or group membership, although the LLI group showed an overall developmental delay in speech perception.
Conclusion - Although children with LLI were less accurate than their peers on the speechreading and speech-in noise-tasks, both groups were able to make equivalent use of visual cues to boost performance accuracy when listening in noise.