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Cerebral palsy (CP) is the most common cause of severe motor disability in children, affecting 3 per 1000 in the US and internationally.  CP has a profound detrimental impact on all aspects of life. 

Approximately 80% of people with cerebral palsy (CP) have some type of difficulty with communication, but very little is known about the specific nature of these problems, how they change as children grow, or how to treat them. 

Data-based prognoses for communication development are unknown, and many children who have CP do not receive appropriate intervention until they experience significant communication failure. 

Our ongoing longitudinal study of communication development in children with CP seeks to characterize speech and language development beginning in the toddler years and proceeding through elementary school.  We are currently following the longitudinal communication development of 85 children with CP and we are currently in the 10th year of this project.

Data collected from these children are being used to:

    • Learn about how speech and language develop and change over time in children with CP

    • Identify profile groups based on behavioral speech and language data

    • Quantify changes in speech, language, and communication

    • Identify early predictors of later outcomes

Results of this research will have important clinical implications, leading to the advancement of interventions that are specifically tailored to different communication subgroups and ultimately to better long-term communication outcomes and quality of life for individuals with CP.  This research will also contribute to the broader theoretical understanding of CP, where classification of speech and language problems has been identified as an important priority. 

This research is supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Child Heath and Human Development, and by the Waisman Center core.

Please browse through our pages to learn more about this project as well as other recent projects, our team, and our recent publications and presentations.

Parents may wish to browse through our page of resources.

Individuals interested in participating in our research should go to our "Participation" page for more information.

Communication Sciences and Disorders

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Waisman Center

1500 Highland Ave

Madison, WI 53705