Deliberate Practice: Preliminary Results of a Useful Strategy for Correcting Articulation in Children With Cleft Palate

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Children with cleft palate frequently show speech and language disorders. In the related scientific literature, several reports have described the use of different strategies for treating speech disorders in children with cleft palate. However, only a few studies have addressed the use of these strategies within a meaningful linguistic context.Deliberate practice is a procedure or strategy, which proposes that the key for achieving high levels of expert performance is dedicating long time for practice. Deliberate practice has been studied mainly in the areas of sports and intellectual games. The purpose of this article is to study whether the use of a strategy originally designed for achieving expert performance in sports and intellectual games, can be useful for the speech intervention of children with cleft palate.For this project, 32 children with cleft palate were studied. The children were randomly assigned to 2 independent groups. Both groups received speech therapy based on the principles of the Whole Language Model. In addition, deliberate practice was used in the children included in the active group.After a speech intervention, although both groups of children demonstrated significant improvement in articulation placement, the active group demonstrated a significantly higher improvement as compared with the control group.In conclusion, these preliminary results seem to suggest that the use of deliberate practice can be effective for enhancing articulation in children with cleft palate.

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