Consideration of Children's Voices: Understanding Age-Related Processes In my early work, I used aerodynamic measures to study articulatory and suprasegmental differences between young children and adults (Stathopoulos & Weismer, 1983, 1985a, 1985b). Later, I became interested in the respiratory and laryngeal physiologic events that contribute to children’s voice production and how these functional events help to ... Article
Article  |   March 01, 2002
Consideration of Children's Voices: Understanding Age-Related Processes
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Elaine Stathopoulos
    Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences, State University of New York at Buffalo
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Articles
Article   |   March 01, 2002
Consideration of Children's Voices: Understanding Age-Related Processes
SIG 3 Perspectives on Voice and Voice Disorders, March 2002, Vol. 12, 8-10. doi:10.1044/vvd12.1.8
SIG 3 Perspectives on Voice and Voice Disorders, March 2002, Vol. 12, 8-10. doi:10.1044/vvd12.1.8
In my early work, I used aerodynamic measures to study articulatory and suprasegmental differences between young children and adults (Stathopoulos & Weismer, 1983, 1985a, 1985b). Later, I became interested in the respiratory and laryngeal physiologic events that contribute to children’s voice production and how these functional events help to differentiate a child voice from an adult voice. I used as my examples some important work on children’s speech and voice (Crystal & House, 1988; Smith, 1991; Smith&McClean-Muse, 1987). One of the early implicit, and later, explicit questions I asked was based on this previous work. The question was: When do children’s voices and speech become adult-like? This question is still being asked in even the most recent articles about children’s voice and speech production (Fitch & Giedd, 1999; Lee, Potamianos, & Narayanan, 1999; Smith & Goffman, 1998). The inconsistency in researchers conclusions about when children’s voices become adult-like is striking. Many of the previous investigations used the variability of the children’s productions as a measure of maturity: the less stability, the less mature the motor control system (Sharkey & Folkins, 1985). Investigation of previous variability data and my own variability data led me to the conclusion that children’s speech and/or voice becomes adult-like somewhere between 8 and 14 years old (Smith & Gartenberg, 1984; Tingley & Allen, 1975; Stathopoulos & Sapienza, 1997). I felt that since this age range was so broad and since variability tended to be highly measurement dependent, the conclusions were inaccurate. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be a consistent pattern in terms of acoustic, aerodynamic or kinematic variability to help us decide when children’s voice becomes like adults.
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