My speech problem, your listening problem, and my frustration: the experience of living with childhood speech impairment

Jane McCormack, Sharynne McLeod, Lindy McAllister, Linda J. Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this article was to understand the experience of speech impairment (speech sound disorders) in everyday life as described by children with speech impairment and their communication partners. Method: Interviews were undertaken with 13 preschool children with speech impairment (mild to severe) and 21 significant others (family members and teachers). Results: A phenomenological analysis of the interview transcripts revealed 2 global themes regarding the experience of living with speech impairment for these children and their families. The first theme encompassed the problems experienced by participants, namely (a) the child's inability to "speak properly," (b) the communication partner's failure to "listen properly," and (c) frustration caused by the speaking and listening problems. The second theme described the solutions participants used to overcome the problems. Solutions included (a) strategies to improve the child's speech accuracy (e.g., home practice, speech-language pathology) and (b) strategies to improve the listener's understanding (e.g., using gestures, repetition). Both short- and long-term solutions were identified. Conclusion: Successful communication is dependent on the skills of speakers and listeners. Intervention with children who experience speech impairment needs to reflect this reciprocity by supporting both the speaker and the listener and by addressing the frustration they experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-392
Number of pages14
JournalLanguage, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • children
  • families
  • speech impairment
  • experience
  • qualitative research
  • speech sound disorders


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