Numerous studies have been conducted to determine the neuropsychological patterns of learning among individuals born with the genetic defect that results in the formation of a cleft lip (CL hereafter) or cleft lip and palate (CLP hereafter). Such individuals have been noted to experience a wide range of learning disabilities. The studies conducted have been with the aim of determining viable means of mitigating the effects that the condition has on the patient’s learning ability (Chapman, Kathy, 2011). This paper will critique Richman and Eliason’s article, “Type of Reading Disability Related to Cleft Type and Neuropsychological Patterns.” This critique will analyze the facts presented in the article, the methods used in carrying out the research as well as the findings of the research as presented. Additionally, it will evaluate the shortcomings of the study as well as its strengths including its objectivity to the stated problem.
The article “Type of Reading Disability Related to Cleft Type and Neuropsychological Patterns,” describes a study carried out to determine the relationship in reading disabilities among individuals with cleft lip and those with cleft lip and palate. The study carried out compares the two groups by matching them against such parameters as age, intelligence, reading level and gender (Richman, Lynn and Eliason, 1984). Each of these parameters was submitted to a series of neuropsychological as well as reading test variables. The participants used for the study comprised 10 females and 14 males. The study selected the same number of participants for each type of cleft with an age range of between 8 and 13 years.
The study was motivated by the fact that many individuals affected by cleft lip or cleft lip and palate deformities suffer from one or more learning disabilities. Furthermore, they face serious speech and language problems. Therefore, the study was carried out to order to determine the relationship between CL and CLP deformities to learning. Furthermore, the study sought to provide clear and concise empirical data that clarify the assumption that children suffering from CL and CLP develop reading problems due to other external speech challenges. Finally, the study sought to show the effect that external speech challenges and language learning deficiencies had on the children’s ability to read.
The article reviews previous studies that have been conducted in relation to the learning deficiencies that exist among children with CL and CLP. The authors note that previous research indicated that children suffering from CLP display deficiency in the extent of their verbal expressiveness. Additionally, those with cleft of the palate displayed massive deficits in learning symbolic language and also had problems in verbal expression. The article further notes that a child with CLP and who displays reading deficiencies faces more challenges developing central language skills. This is in comparison to other disabled children without clefts based on their intellectual capabilities. The paper alludes to Border’s system of error classification among individuals with reading problems. According to the classification, the errors made could either be phonetic or visual word errors. These errors are referred to as dyseidetic and dysphonetic errors respectively. From these observations, the article develops two hypotheses upon which the study will be based. The first hypothesis seeks to determine whether children with CL and CLP who display dyseidetic errors possess extremely minimal extra cognitive disabilities and that these errors can be linked to peripheral speech challenges. Secondly, the study hypothesized that children who possess either comprehension problems or dysphonetic errors will tend to display complementary neuropsychological and or language deficits that may be linked to other reading challenges.
In order to carry out the study, the children aged between 8 and 13 years were chosen for the study from University of Iowa Cleft Palate Research Program. This age was considered as it the most appropriate age for the determination of learning disabilities. The criteria used to select the research participants involved an IQ test based on the WISC scale. There were 10 females and 14 males selected for the study. They were then arranged based on gender, IQ, age as well as reading skills level.
The method used in the study involved subjecting each of the test subjects through a battery of tests and assessments by a psychologist. The subjects were initially screened and submitted to an intelligence test. After that, they were taken through the process of evaluating their neuropsychological capability as well as an assessment of the reading comprehension. Several tasks were carefully selected that would be used to draw conclusions for the study. The subjects were submitted to tests in; picture association, auditory association, word fluency, Rey auditory verbal learning test, digital span forward and backward test, sentence repetition, judgment of line orientation, bender visual motor gestalt test and reading assessment.
From these tests, empirical values were calculated and conclusions drawn from the study. It was determined that there existed considerable variations in the measure of language and memory between children with CL and CLP. CLP subjects indicated scored better in memorizing sentences and words than CL children. They also fared better than CL children on tasks involving language association, word fluency, auditory and picture association. However, extremely minimal differences were realized in visual perceptual skills between CL and CLP. Additionally, the results observed indicated that cleft palate deformed children comprise a specific group of children with severe language disorder as well as reading and comprehension ability. Finally, it was determined that CLP children showed higher prevalence of deficits in verbal expressiveness but possessed less severe reading challenges than CL children.
The study had several strengths that enhanced the validity of its conclusions and findings. To begin with, the study was objective and used a study group that was within an age limit that could be adequately monitored and their behavior properly studied. Furthermore, the utilization of empirical data to draw conclusions makes the study more dependable and superior to previous studies conducted earlier on the same topic. By using empirical data, it was possible to give tangible results that can be used quantitatively to refer to the relationship between neuropsychological patterns of learning and the subject population.
On the other hand, the study had shortcomings that could be used to challenge the validity of its conclusions and findings. To begin with, the sample population under study was minimal. The group selected for the study was quite small and to draw general conclusions to be used on a wider population from such a small sample space is questionable. The fact that all the subjects were oriented to the same environment also raises the challenge of evaluation of environmental factors. As a result of the common environment of the subjects, environmental factors could not be adequately accounted for using the selected sample population.
The results obtained from the study are highly beneficial in the future handling of children with CL and CLP deformities. From the study, it is evident that peripheral mechanisms of speech play a fundamental role in how such children learn to speak, read and comprehend. Therefore, future patients can be handled with utmost care with consideration of such peripheral mechanisms. This will enable such children to develop better speech, read well and become better learners. These would ensure they live quality lives. The study forms a basis for future research on other aspects of reading disabilities related to CL and CLP while making use of empirical data to demonstrate the relevance of the issue.