Speech Discrimination for Children

For speech discrimination testing in adults, audiologists often choose either the W-22 or NU-6. If they want to shorten the testing time, they will use a list that is ordered by difficulty or a short interval recording. However, the choice between word recognition tests becomes more complicated when it comes to children because there are several to choose from. I am often asked: Which test is best? There is not one clear answer because the best test depends on the age range of your patients.

If your patients’ age range is 12 and older, you can confidently administer the adult word lists such as the W-22 Form A or NU-6 Form A. Depending on the vocabulary of the child, you may choose to administer these lists to kids a little younger than 12. The administrator must start the recording, then the patient simply repeats the word he or she hears on the recording.

The PBK-50 Form A word list was designed for lower grade school age children. The PBK is similar to the W-22 or NU-6 word list except the vocabulary is more appropriate for this younger age group. Again, the patient simply repeats the word as he or she hears on the recording.


The Word Intelligibility by Picture Identification (WIPI) fits a lower age range of 5 to 8 year olds. This test makes use of a picture book (sample at left). The child listens to the recording, then points to the pictured representation of the word as he or she hears it. There are six choices on each page. Aside from being easier for younger children, it is also beneficial for the test administrator to see the selection by using picture-pointing since the child’s spoken response may be difficult to understand.

image005The Northwestern University-Children’s Perception of Speech (NU-CHIPS) test reaches an even younger age range. Ages 2-5 can be tested by administering this picture-pointing test. As you can see from the pictures at right, there are less choices for the younger child to select from as they listen to the recording.

The test an audiologist administers to a child should be appropriate for his or her age group (or language age). If the test is too easy or too hard, the test results may not show his or her true ability to discriminate speech. Therefore, it may be necessary to purchase one or more tests for your patients depending on the patient age range. You have been entrusted to evaluate the hearing of these amazing kids so it is up to you to utilize the best and most appropriate tests available.

Pediatric Speech Intelligibility©

The Pediatric Speech Intelligibility Test© is a test for children ages 3 to 6. It fits in two important auditory processing domains. It can be categorized as both a dichotic test and a monaural low-redundancy speech test (monaural separation closure-MSC) sensitive to low brainstem.

The importance of speech audiometry, especially where the test materials include both monosyllabic words and sentences, has been well established for adults. Experience with performance vs. intensity (PI) functions and message to competition ratio (MCR) functions with adults led to the development of an analogous test for children; the Pediatric Speech Intelligibility (PSI) test.

The PSI includes both monosyllabic words and and two sets of sentences recorded in quiet and with competition (auditory figure ground). The test employs color plates with pictures of animals (animals were used to avoid ethnic biases) which represent either the sentences or the words. It is an extremely useful tool for the investigation of peripheral and auditory processing with children down to a language age of three or slightly younger.

The test includes: a) corresponding laminated color plates, b) audio test recording, and c) manual and score forms as printable pdf files. This extensive manual includes background, administration, and interpretation information including normative data for young children. Available from Auditec, Inc. Use the “Buy Now” button below or call 1-800-669-9065 (from US) or 314-416-1050 (outside the US) to order. FREE shipping to contiguous US.

Pediatric Speech Intelligibility© (CD Format); Item 183; Price $299.00 USD + S&H*
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