SUPPORTING THE NUMERICAL DEVELOPMENT OF CP CHILDREN WITH DELAYED LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT: A PILOT STUDY AMONGST GRADE 4, CP LEARNERS IN SOUTH AFRICA
A large number of learners with cerebral palsy (CP) have delayed language development resulting not only in literacy problems, but they also experience numerous problems with the development of basic numerical skills. Some researchers have postulated that 46% of children with CP have at least one specific learning difficulty and that CP children are more likely to experience learning difficulties in the area of mathematics. Research findings suggest that in the case of CP children learning problems have been associated with deficits in both the visuospatial sketchpad of working memory as well as problems related to the “incomplete” phonological loop. This is further complicated by challenges related to vision, hearing and speech abilities. Consequently the repetition store in the working memory does not recognize the corresponding symbol/number and sound. Against this background the present study was both exploratory and experimental in nature. First, the researchers set out to determine the performance levels of Grade 4, CP children sampled for the present investigation (n = 18). This included administering their non-verbal intellectual potential (RAVENS), as well as standardized measures to determine their level of maths proficiency. Secondly, the researchers implemented intervention therapy techniques, entailing multi-sensory coding, to determine whether Grade 4, CP learners with mathematics delays can significantly improve their mathematics performances (following a six month invention programme that specifically addressed number concept, arithmetic facts and basic mathematical operations). The core purpose of this intervention therapy technique is to support the fundamental problem of CP children, namely the “incomplete” phonological loop in the working memory of learners to enable them to recognize letters, numerical symbols and figures and retain them in the memory. After six months of intervention therapy, the post-test results showed a significant improvement for CP children in the experimental group. These results confirm the possible benefits of considering multi-sensory intervention therapy for CP children with delayed language development.