Electropalatography therapy in children with Down syndrome. Does cognitive ability come into play?
The present dissertation investigated the relationship between cognitive ability, as measured on the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI-III UK), and the effectiveness of Electropalatography (EPG) therapy, as measured by % intelligibility on the Children’s Speech Intelligibility Measure (CSIM) and % consonants correct (PCC) from the Diagnostic Evaluation of Articulation and Phonology (DEAP), on the speech intelligibility of individuals with Down Syndrome (DS). Individuals with DS present with impairment in speech and language, alongside their cognitive difficulties, leading to reduced speech intelligibility. EPG therapy has previously been used for speech intelligibility difficulties in individuals with DS. Research in this field has yet to focus on the relation between cognitive ability and EPG therapy in those with DS. 9 children and adolescents with DS, aged 9;10 to 18 years, were recruited from a larger project conducted previously. Participants completed the WPPSI cognitive measure, DEAP phonology sub-test and the CSIM intelligibility measure. The results were analysed both qualitatively and quantitatively and correlated to determine relationships. A significant increase was found in PCC following therapy, indicating that consonant production improved. A correlation was found between PCC and CSIM scores, implying that improved consonant production may lead to better general intelligibility. Most participants showed improvement when evaluating their EPG frames pre-therapy, post-therapy, 3- and 6-months post-therapy and comparing them to typical examples. Some trends were evident in the limited improvement of the participant with the lowest cognitive ability; however, there was no evident difference in improvement of those with higher and lower cognitive abilities. EPG therapy appears a suitable approach for children with DS who present with speech sound disorder to improve intelligibility and research should investigate further whether cognitive ability is related to this improvement.