Reading and spelling abilities in children with severe speech impairments and cerebral palsy at 6, 9, and 12 years of age in relation to cognitive development: a longitudinal study.
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Dev Med Child Neurol 48 (8): 629--634 (August 2006)

Development of literacy skills was studied in six children (one male, five females) with severe speech impairments and cerebral palsy (CP). These skills were related to intellectual development, phonological abilities, and short-term memory. Three of the children were diagnosed with dystonia, and three with diplegia. They had no, or severely restricted, independent mobility (Gross Motor Function Classification System Level IV for four children and Level V for two), and severe fine motor problems, including difficulty with pointing. As they had no intelligible speech, the Bliss system was the primary communication mode. Assessments were made at approximately 6, 9, and 12 years of age. The results revealed that the children had difficulties acquiring literacy skills, although intellectual level and phonological ability predicted otherwise. Positive development during the first 3 years was followed by an arrest. A conspicuous decrease in IQ points was also found. Thus, phonological ability does not seem to have the same predictive power for literacy development in children with severe speech impairments and CP as in typically developing children. Further studies are needed to clarify the role of phonological abilities, working memory, and strategies used in literacy acquisition in these children. Such studies might also clarify the importance of articulatory abilities in early literacy acquisition.
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