The Development of Symbolic Play and Language in Toddlers With Cleft Palate

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This study compared the longitudinal performance of two groups of toddlers with palatal clefts and an age-matched group of children without palatal clefts on measures of elicited symbolic play at 18, 24, and 30 months. The results indicated that the group with isolated cleft palate differed significantly from both the cleft lip and palate group and the noncleft group on all but 1 play measure. Correlational analyses for each group indicated significant positive correlations between a number of the play variables at 18 months and productive vocabulary and MLU at 24 and 30 months of age. The findings suggest that assessment of early play gestures may assist clinicians in identifying children with clefts who are at risk for later language impairment.