Speech, Language, and Reading in 10-Year-Olds With Cleft: Associations With Teasing, Satisfaction With Speech, and Psychological Adjustment.


BACKGROUND: Despite the use of multidisciplinary services, little research has addressed issues involved in the care of those with cleft lip and/or palate across disciplines. The aim was to investigate associations between speech, language, reading, and reports of teasing, subjective satisfaction with speech, and psychological adjustment. DESIGN: Cross-sectional data collected during routine, multidisciplinary assessments in a centralized treatment setting, including speech and language therapists and clinical psychologists. PARTICIPANTS: Children with cleft with palatal involvement aged 10 years from three birth cohorts (N = 170) and their parents. OUTCOME MEASURES: Speech: SVANTE-N. Language: Language 6-16 (sentence recall, serial recall, vocabulary, and phonological awareness). Reading: Word Chain Test and Reading Comprehension Test. Psychological measures: Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and extracts from the Satisfaction With Appearance Scale and Child Experience Questionnaire. RESULTS: Reading skills were associated with self- and parent-reported psychological adjustment in the child. Subjective satisfaction with speech was associated with psychological adjustment, while not being consistently associated with speech therapists’ assessments. Parent-reported teasing was found to be associated with lower levels of reading skills. Having a medical and/or psychological condition in addition to the cleft was found to affect speech, language, and reading significantly. CONCLUSIONS: Cleft teams need to be aware of speech, language, and/or reading problems as potential indicators of psychological risk in children with cleft. This study highlights the importance of multiple reports (self, parent, and specialist) and a multidisciplinary approach to cleft care and research.