Article révisé par les pairs
Résumé : We report on an instrumental analysis of spontaneous conversational speech (SCS) fluency in acquired childhood aphasia (ACA). Tape-recorded SCS samples of 25 children with ACA (clinical judgment: 12 nonfluent and 13 fluent), and of 12 dysarthric and 12 nonaphasic and nondysarthric right hemisphere injured children were analysed in order to: (1) investigate whether a more refined analysis can objectively contribute to the differentiation of patients who were labelled as fluent or nonfluent on the basis of a clinical judgment: (2) verify whether an instrumental analysis of phonation duration does confirm the subjective estimation of verbal rate (i.e. the number of words produced in a unit of time) in groups of children with acquired neurogenic speech/language disorders frequently met in clinical practice. The results are: (1) phonation rate (i.e. the vocalization percentage) seems to represent an adequate variable to distinguish clinically diagnosed nonfluent aphasic children from speech/language impaired children belonging to other clinical groups of acquired neurogenic speech/language disorders; (2) the verbal rate is highly correlated to the phonation rate in all investigated groups except the dysarthric one. We suggest the instrumental method discussed here might contribute to the differential diagnosis between dysarthric and aphasic disturbances in the acute stage of the disease. Concerning the study of ACA, the main issue of the present investigation is that an objective fluency measurement has succeeded in identifying aphasic children who obviously do not fit in with the standard doctrine on ACA, which claims that ACA is invariably nonfluent irrespective of lesion location.