Academic Preparation in Cleft Palate for Speech-Language Pathologists: Is the ICF-CY (Who, 2007) Alive and Well?

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The purpose of this project is to determine inclusion of the ICF-CY in Cleft Lip and Palate (CLP) training curricula for Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs). Survey research was conducted with CLP course instructors across the nation. Results describe the application of the ICF-CY in CLP courses at the graduate level. Recommendations for including the ICF-CY framework are made. Cleft Lip and Palate, one of the most prevalent birth defects in the US, affects 7,090 infants per year with an incidence of approximately 1 in 600 births (Center for Disease Control, 2006). SLPs require skills and competencies in assessing and treating CLP, however the academic and clinical preparation of SLPs regarding CLP remains a topic of concern. Training issues in CLP have been researched since the 1960’s (Vallino et al., 2008). Sharp and O’Gara (2014) suggested discussing training programs regarding the core learning outcomes for entry-level preparation in resonance disorders. The International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health for Children and Youth (ICF-CY) (WHO, 2007) provides an important, holistic framework for children with CLP. The ICF-CY’s interrelated components emphasize the factors influencing the activities and participation of children with CLP. Despite research recommending incorporation of the ICF-CY into SLP training curricula, the inclusion of the ICF-CY in CLP courses has not been explored to date as far as could be determined. The current study aimed to survey CLP graduate course instructors to describe the content of curricula and to determine the extent to which the ICF-CY is being included and applied in teaching assessment and intervention of CLP. A 35-item questionnaire was constructed to obtain information regarding academic and clinical training in the area of CLP in US graduate programs. Survey questions targeted demographic information regarding the program, course, and instructor. Survey questions also examined the inclusion of the ICF-CY framework into course content regarding assessment and intervention. The survey was administered via an online academic survey tool. The survey was distributed to the department chairs of ASHA accredited SLP graduate programs to be completed by training programs’ faculty who teach the CLP (or related) course. 61 fully completed surveys were eligible 2016 Appalachian Student Research Forum Page 101 for analysis. An item-by-item analysis was performed to describe survey results. Results showed only 23% of respondents reported teaching a course exclusively related to CLP, which confirms concerns related to Vallino et al. (2008) and other researchers. The ICF-CY does not yet appear to be fully integrated into CLP coursework and in response to the question posed by the researchers, does not appear to be alive and well in US CLP curricula. A case is made for the ICF-CY framework to be incorporated into CLP curricula to provide future SLPs a holistic perspective of children with CLP and to extend their thinking about the impact of speech impairment associated with CLP. Including the ICF-CY framework in training will facilitate collaborative inter-professional care of children with CLP. Finally, the inclusion of the ICF components and their interaction into ASHA’s most recent draft of the Scope of Practice in SpeechLanguage Pathology emphasizes the necessity of ICF inclusion in course curriculum to support provision of high-quality services.


Johnson City, TN

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