Jenny Philp and Ariel Vovakes recently completed the Advanced Research Experience Seminar (ARES) program under the mentorship of Dr. Nancy Scherer and Dr. Hope Lancaster. Both Ariel and Jenny utilized the PHON software program to analyze the speech development of children with cleft palate.

Jenny examined the use of speech errors (i.e., deletions and substitutions) in children with cleft palate over the course of early intervention. She studied how speech articulatory errors changed between pre-intervention and a follow-up assessment conducted three months after the conclusion of early intervention. Jenny also evaluated the proportions of cleft-related and developmental substitutions over time. One of Jenny’s research findings was that as cleft-related substitutions decreased during early intervention, developmental substitutions increased. This meant that children with cleft palate were producing speech more similar to their typically-developing peers.

Ariel was interested in studying how vocabulary measures gathered at pre-intervention predicted speech skills of children with cleft palate following early intervention. Her project examined percentage of consonants correct at post-intervention and change in substitutions and deletions between pre-intervention and post-intervention. Vocabulary skills at pre-intervention predicted global speech accuracy and change in speech errors after early intervention.

Jenny and Ariel  presented the results of their ARES projects at the 2017 Department of Speech and Hearing Science Research Day. Congratulations to Ariel & Jenny on successful ARES projects and presentations!

Rachel DiNaso recently completed the Advanced Research Experience Seminar (ARES) program under the mentorship of Dr. Nancy Scherer. Through the ARES program, Rachel was interested in developing a deeper understanding of how language environment affects children’s language development over time. Rachel studied children’s language use across different language environments (i.e., home setting, preschool language group setting) and activities using the Language Environmental Analysis (LENA) recorder. Rachel was interested in determining which activities promoted child vocalizations in the preschool language group and in the home setting. Rachel’s ARES project collected follow-up speech and language assessment data and language use data for participants with suspected speech and language delay.

Congratulations to Rachel on the poster presentation of her ARES project!

Rachel presented the results of her ARES project at the 2016 Department of Speech and Hearing Science Research Day. Rachel found that toddlers used the most language, as measured by the Child Vocalization Count using the LENA recorder, during unstructured play activities. Meanwhile, the children’s parents and caregivers at the preschool language group used the most language, as measured by Adult Word Count using the LENA recorder, during routines and general play.  These contexts are often used clinically to train parents in language facilitation strategies. Using the LENA recorder permitted analysis of children’s typical language environment throughout the day and provided information about language use across activities and settings.

Congratulations to Rachel on a successful ARES project and presentation!

The Craniofacial & Cleft Palate Laboratory is currently recruiting school-aged children diagnosed with 22q11.2 deletion syndrome who have significant speech difficulties to participate in a speech therapy research study. Participants will enroll in a speech therapy program using visual feedback tools, including Electropalatography and Ultrasound. Participation is voluntary. Please contact Nancy Scherer, principal investigator, or Kari Lien, graduate research assistant, for information regarding study eligibility and participation.

Nancy Scherer: (480) 965-2905

Kari Lien:

Speech Visual Feedback Recruitment Flyer

Undergraduate student Rachel DiNaso is conducting research through the ARES program.  Her research looks at the effect of activity type and environment on language for children with suspected speech and languages delays over time.  By using LENA (a small recording device that the child wears), Rachel will be able to record each child and analyze the number of child vocalizations, conversational turns, and adult word counts across a ten hour day.  In the spring of 2015, another student, Kelsey Glavee, collected data using the same methods from the same sample of children with suspected speech and language delays.  Rachel plans to compare Kelsey’s results to her own in order to see how the children’s language has changed over time, as well as how their language enriched environment, facilitated by teachers and caregivers, has changed over time.

Additionally, Megan Hirsch & Michelle McKay are two undergraduate students who are conducting separate research in the CFCP Lab under the direction of Dr. Juliet Weinhold.  Megan is a junior majoring in speech and hearing science and minoring in psychology.  She is currently  studying the typical articulation of /r/ in adults.  By gathering data from ultrasound images and acoustic analysis, as shown by signal processing, she hopes to be able to find correlations between tongue shape and acoustic output for /r/.  Michelle is a senior completing research for her Barrett Honors Thesis.  She is looking at how swallowing patterns change with the implementation of specific therapeutic interventions which overlap between the feeding therapy profession and the myofunctional therapy profession. She is using ultrasound to measure changes to the swallowing pattern in order to look at potential changes related to the interventions.

Below is an image of Megan collecting data from a test subject.


We had a wonderful time on our excursion to the Desert Botanical Gardens the other evening!  The holiday lighting is beautiful and enchanting.  Highly recommended!  We hope you all have a safe and happy holiday, and look forward to what is to come in the new year!


Happy holidays!

We had a great time at ASHA this year!  Here is a photo of Dr. Scherer and fellow researchers in front of one of the posters they presented entitled The Role of Speech Intelligibility in Caregiver Responses to their Toddlers: A 6-Month Follow-Up Study.IMG_2558

Until next year!

Lab members will be presenting at the Annual American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention in Colorado on November 12-14.

The following poster will be presented by Nancy J. Scherer, Ph.D., CCC-SLP & David Ingram, Ph.D.:

Final Atypical patterns in the phonological systems of two-year-old children with clefts - ASHA poster

Objective: Two studies were conducted to analyze the early phonological development of toddlers with repaired cleft lip and/or palate.

  • Study 1 was a cross-sectional study of the correlation between consonant accuracy and word complexity, to determine if the children showed phonological delay or atypical development.
  • Study 2 was a longitudinal study of phonological changes 7 to 10 months later following a speech intervention consisting of Enhanced Milieu Teaching with Phonological Emphasis (Scherer & Kaiser, 2010).

The following poster was originally presented by Lauren Kleinert, M.S. and Shauna Baker, M.S., CCC-SLP, at the 72nd Annual Meeting of the American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association in April 2015.  At the Annual ASHA Convention, it will be presented by Lauren Kleinert.ACPA Poster 2015 FinalObjective: The purpose of this study was to compare speech and language skills of 5 toddlers adopted from China (Internationally Adopted) and 5 age and gender matched toddlers born in the United States (US born) over 3 time points to determine progress over time.

Have a great time at ASHA!

Update from Dr. Scherer: The ASU-University of São Paulo partnership has begun with my recent trip to Brazil.  This project will adapt an early speech intervention for children with cleft palate for use in Brazil at the Hospital for Rehabilitation of Craniofacial Anomalies in Bauru, Brazil. Pictured are the research team members.  


We are just beginning a project with University of São Paulo, Brazil and Centrino Hospital for Craniofacial Anomalies to adapt an evidence-based intervention for use there. Additional Information for Honors Students: Honors students can pursue projects assessing the early speech and language development of children with craniofacial conditions, testing materials used to train parents in early intervention, or developing web-based applications for intervention and parent training.