Speech input processing and its relationship with cleft speech characteristics in children born with cleft palate at age 5 years.

  • Lucy Southby

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Children born with cleft palate are at risk of developing cleft speech characteristics (CSCs). Understanding of factors associated with poorer speech outcomes remains limited. Successful speech requires intact anatomical structure and function, and cognitive skills known as speech processing skills, which are also linked to literacy development. Speech processing skills can be categorised into input and output processing skills. The nature and prevalence of speech output features in children born with cleft palate have been well documented. However, speech input processing and its relationship with the development and persistence of CSCs has received little attention. It is currently unknown whether speech and language therapists should assess these skills in children born with cleft palate as part of routine care.
This study aimed to understand whether there is a relationship between speech input processing and the presence of CSCs at age 5 years in children born with cleft palate. Secondary aims were to explore the profile of speech input processing sub-skills, including relationships with factors associated with speech development in all children and factors associated with speech outcomes in children born with cleft palate specifically.
Using a cross-sectional study design, 61 participants born with cleft palate, average age 69 months, were recruited from five regional cleft centre sites in England. Presence of CSCs was derived from routinely collected and analysed data and assessments of speech input processing completed. Additional variable data were collected from parent questionnaires and clinical records.
Statistical analysis found no evidence for relationships at group level between individual speech input processing skills and the presence of CSCs in this study. However, further work with larger sample sizes is required. Descriptive analysis at the individual CSC level indicated heterogeneity in performance, which could have implications for clinical management. Future work exploring CSC specific processing skills, assessment tool development and relationships with literacy and education outcomes is indicated.
Date of Award28 Sep 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorYvonne E Wren (Supervisor) & Carol J Joinson (Supervisor)

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