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Access to AAC in a geographical sample of children with CP

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Aim: Access to AAC depends on the environment’s recognition of the child’s communication possibilities. This paper investigates the relationship between motor, cognitive and speech functioning and access to AAC.

Method: Seventy-three children with CP were assessed with tests of cognition and language comprehension and parents were asked about use of AAC. Mean age was 9;10 years (range 5;1–17;7) and 39 were girls. Motor functioning, speech and communication were classified with the Gross Motor Functioning Classification System (GMFCS), Manual Ability Classification System (MACS), Viking speech scale (VSS) and Communication Function Classification System (CFCS).

Results: According to parents, ten children had previously used AAC and 21 were currently using AAC. Two children with VSS level III had never used AAC and one child with level IV had access to AAC only at school. Twelve were in the expressive group, five in the alternative language group and 14 in the language support group (four in the situational and ten in the developmental group). Cognitive functioning, speech ability and motor functioning varied significantly between user groups. The language support group had the most severe cognitive impairments and the expressive group the most severe speech, gross and fine motor problems.

Conclusion: Almost one third of a representative geographical sample of school aged children with CP had a need for AAC. Their functioning was very varied, both with regards to motor functioning, cognition and language. About 86% of the children needing AAC had access to it, an improvement in access to AAC from prior studies.

Author(s):

Kristine Stadskleiv    
Oslo University Hospital
Norway

Stephen von Tetzchner    
University of Oslo
Norway

Reidun Jahnsen    
Oslo University Hospital
Norway

Guro L. Andersen    
Vestfold Hospital Trust, The Cerebral Palsy Registry of Norway
Norway

 

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