A motor speech assessment for children with severe speech disorders: Reliability and validity evidence

Edythe A. Strand, Rebecca J. McCauley, Stephen D. Weigand, Ruth E. Stoeckel, Becky S. Baas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Purpose: In this article, the authors report reliability and validity evidence for the Dynamic Evaluation of Motor Speech Skill (DEMSS), a new test that uses dynamic assessment to aid in the differential diagnosis of childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). Method: Participants were 81 children between 36 and 79 months of age who were referred to the Mayo Clinic for diagnosis of speech sound disorders. Children were given the DEMSS and a standard speech and language test battery as part of routine evaluations. Subsequently, intrajudge, interjudge, and test-retest reliability were evaluated for a subset of participants. Construct validity was explored for all 81 participants through the use of agglomerative cluster analysis, sensitivity measures, and likelihood ratios. Results: The mean percentage of agreement for 171 judgments was 89% for test-retest reliability, 89% for intrajudge reliability, and 91% for interjudge reliability. Agglomerative hierarchical cluster analysis showed that total DEMSS scores largely differentiated clusters of children with CAS vs. mild CAS vs. other speech disorders. Positive and negative likelihood ratios and measures of sensitivity and specificity suggested that the DEMSS does not overdiagnose CAS but sometimes fails to identify children with CAS. Conclusions: The value of the DEMSS in differential diagnosis of severe speech impairments was supported on the basis of evidence of reliability and validity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-520
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013


  • Childhood apraxia of speech
  • Differential diagnosis
  • Dynamic assessment
  • Pediatric motor speech disorders
  • Speech sound disorders
  • Test development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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