Acquisition of Obstruents in Children with Cleft Palate: Evidence from an Intervention Study

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Young children with cleft lip and palate (CLP) are at risk for early speech and vocabulary delays. There have been few data-based investigations of specific early intervention approaches to remediate these early delays. This study examined the acquisition of obstruents in a group of children with CLP before, during and after an early speech and language intervention to identify the changes that occurred in the sound system as the children engaged in early intervention. Participants included 18 children with nonsyndromic cleft lip and/or palate (CLP) between 15 and 36 months (MN Age 22.5; MN IQ: 107) received a clinician administered naturalistic language and speech intervention in 32 sessions over four months. The children were tested prior to intervention, midway through the intervention and immediately after the conclusion of intervention. Speech assessment, the Profiles of Early Expressive Phonological Skills (PEEPS; Williams & Stoel-Gammon, 2010)) was administered at each time point. This newly developed age-appropriate assessment focuses on single words. Whole word phonetic transcriptions were completed by a clinician trained in transcription of children with CLP. Transcription reliability, assessed with a second transcriber, was 89%. The intervention was a hybrid naturalistic language and speech intervention that targeted production of obstruents. Acquisition of place, manner and voicing features across the 3 time points was examined for error features during intervention. Error pattern changes are compared to measures for consonant inventory by word position and place of production, and percentage of consonants correct (PCC). Profiles of speech acquisition will be discussed relative to typical performance. This preliminary data provides information regarding the acquisition of early speech production of obstruents for children with clefts. The data will assist clinicians to make evidence-based decisions about the effectiveness of early speech interventions.


Stockholm, Sweden

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