Home literacy environment: characteristics of children with cerebral palsy
until further notice
SourceInternational Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 44, 6, (2009), pp. 917-940
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI OLO
International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
SubjectLearning and Plasticity
Background: Various aspects of the home literacy environment are considered to stimulate the emergent literacy development in children without disabilities. It is important to gain insight into the home literacy environment of children with cerebral palsy given that they have been shown to have difficulty acquiring literacy skills. Aims: The aims of the present study were to investigate whether the home literacy environment of children with cerebral palsy was comparable with that of peers without disabilities and to investigate to what extent speech, fine motor, and intellectual impairments limit their home literacy experiences. Methods & Procedures: Questionnaires addressed to the parents of the children were devised to investigate differences in the home literacy environment in 40 children with cerebral palsy and in 62 peers without disabilities who were comparable on chronological age, i.e., 6 years old, socio-economic status (SES) and sex. The relative influence of speech intelligibility, fine motor skills, and intelligence skills for the home literacy environment factors of children with cerebral palsy was investigated. Outcomes & Results: Only a few group differences were significant: children with cerebral palsy were less interested in participating in writing activities, and less involved in word-orientation activities during shared storybook reading. On the other hand, parents of children with cerebral palsy were doing more leisure activities with their child. The speech intelligibility scores of the children with cerebral palsy predicted the amount of emergent literacy activities they were doing with their parents, as wells as their active participation in word-related activities during storybook reading. In addition, the active participation of the child in story-related activities could be predicted by his or her fine motor skills. Furthermore, parents of the children in the comparison group often had high expectations, while parents of the children with cerebral palsy often did not know what expectations to have for their child's literacy level at the end of elementary school. Conclusions & Implications: Although both groups have stimulating home literacy environments, children with cerebral palsy with speech or fine motor impairments are disadvantaged in a small number of literacy activities. Teachers and speech and language therapists can work with parents to give them suggestions on how to conduct emergent literacy activities with their child with speech impairments as well as how on to involve their child with speech and fine motor dysfunctions more actively in storybook reading activities. Furthermore, parents should be given more information about their child's language development in order the better to understand what goals are achievable so they may begin to form realistic expectations.
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