Area of Expertise
I am a Speech and Language Therapist with an interest in clinical phonetics and articulatory analysis (mostly ultrasound tongue imaging). My area of expertise is visual biofeedback techniques for the assessment and treatment of motor speech disorders. I am interested in research which looks at speech disorders in children, particularly in children with developmental disabilities. I am interested in motor speech disorders in autism spectrum conditions, Down syndrome, cleft lip and palate and persistent speech sound disorders.
I welcome enquires from prospective research students interested in the above topics.
Prize And Awards
My research focuses on developmental Speech Sound Disorders. I have a particular interest in Visual Biofeedback, that is, technologies which can be used to image the articulators (principally the tongue) moving when we speak. My research has focused both on electropalatogrpahy (EPG) and ultrasound tongue imaging (UTI) as two of the main techniques which provide both ways of measuring tongue movement and of allowing children with speech sound disorders a method of using real-time visual biofeedback of their own tongue movements to modify incorrect articulations and therefore improve their speech.
Current projects include clinical studies looking the efficacy of visual biofeedback in children with persistent speech sound disorders and cleft lip and palate and assessment of speech disorders using ultrasound. At the theoretical level I am interested in the underlying nature of persistent speech sound disorder, especially with regards to theories which implicate the speech motor control system. I am interested in speech motor control in children with both primary speech sound disorders and those with other diagnoses including Down syndrome, autism and cleft lip and palate.
Speech and Language Therapy at the University of Strathclyde have been at the forefront of developing ultrasound technology for the diagnosis and treatment of speech disorders in children. Speech disorders are common in childhood, affecting social, emotional and educational prospects. Most intervention approaches involve the speech and language therapist (SLT) listening to children’s speech errors and providing verbal feedback. While this can be effective, our research at Strathclyde demonstrates that children benefit from visual feedback of their tongue movements. By placing a medical ultrasound probe under the child’s chin, we can show them their tongue movements in real-time, allowing the SLT to give them more accurate feedback to help correct speech errors.
Through two EPSRC funded projects (Ultrax and Ultrax2020) joint with the University of Edinburgh, we have improved the ultrasound technology, making it more suitable for use in the speech therapy clinic and have developed automatic ways (using artificial intelligence) to classify speech disorder types. We have also run two Chief Scientist Office (CSO) funded intervention studies (one ongoing) which show that this can be an effective treatment. In parallel to this, Eleanor Lawson (Chancellor fellow since 2022, formerly at Queen Margaret University) has developed a suite of web resources (funded by AHRC, ESRC, RSE and the Carnegie Trust) which host ultrasound, MRI and animations of speech movements for training clinicians and linguists in speech production. An ongoing ESRC project (lead by Lawson with Cleland as Co-I) is currently developing a website “Speech Therapy Animation and imaging Resource- STAR”, which will house example ultrasound videos of speech disorders for training SLT students, with a secondary aim of improving understanding of and promoting ultrasound tongue imaging in SLT. All of these research projects include ongoing collection of impact evidence gathered using questionnaires and focus groups.
It is clear that what is missing from both our research and impact are training materials for clinicians specifically in how to use ultrasound in intervention with children. This funding would allow us to develop multi-media resources specifically for this purpose, accelerating the clinical implementation of our work. We have already developed an open access manual for delivering ultrasound-based intervention https://strathprints.strath.ac.uk/63372/ , and we have developed teaching materials for in-person training with ultrasound. This funding would specifically be used to develop videos of clinicians delivering ultrasound intervention- featuring real children with speech disorders (with consent- covered by our current NHS ethical approval and additional consent to use the videos for marketing purposes) at the Glasgow Children’s Hospital. We would also use the funding to record and edit ultrasound analysis videos (i.e. videos showing tongue movements, rather than videos showing the SLT and child) of real teaching moments in intervention to illustrate the key steps in helping children to improve their speech errors. Both materials will be made in collaboration with the Glasgow Children’s hospital who are currently undertaking ultrasound-based therapy as part of a CSO funded clinical trial (PI Cleland).