Early Predictors and Correlates of Communication Function in Children With Cerebral Palsy

Mary Jo Cooley Hidecker, Jaime Slaughter-Acey, Purni Abeysekara, Nhan T. Ho, Nancy Dodge, Edward A. Hurvitz, Marilyn Seif Workinger, Ray D. Kent, Peter Rosenbaum, Madeleine Lenski, Suzette Báez Vanderbeek, Steven DeRoos, Nigel Paneth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Birth characteristics and developmental milestones were evaluated as early predictors/correlates of communication in children with cerebral palsy. The hypothesis was that maternal report of child’s age for vocal play and first words would predict current functional communication. A case series of 215 children, 2 to 17 years (mean age = 8.2 years, SD = 3.9) with cerebral palsy was recruited from medical practices in 3 Michigan cities. Early developmental data were collected by maternal interview. The child’s Communication Function Classification System (CFCS) level was obtained from parent. Predictors of less functional communication included gestational age >32 weeks, number of comorbidities, age of first words after age 24 months, and use of communication methods other than speech. Several birth characteristics and developmental language milestones were predictive of later communication performance for children with cerebral palsy. These characteristics and milestones should trigger referrals for communication evaluations, including speech, language, hearing, and/or augmentative and alternative communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-285
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Child Neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported in part by NIH NINDS grant R01NS055101 to Nigel Paneth. Editorial assistance was supported by Mountain West CTR-IN to MJCH, funded by a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health: 5U54GM104944.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © The Author(s) 2018.


  • cerebral palsy
  • Communication Function Classification System (CFCS)
  • communication milestone
  • Gross Motor Function Classification System (GMFCS)
  • Manual Ability Classification System (MAC)

Cite this