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Development of The Viking Speech Scale to classify the speech of children with cerebral palsy

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Lindsay Pennington, Emeritus Professor Allan ColverORCiD



Surveillance registers monitor the prevalence of cerebral palsy and the severity of resulting impairments across time and place. The motor disorders of cerebral palsy can affect children's speech production and limit their intelligibility. We describe the development of a scale to classify children's speech performance for use in cerebral palsy surveillance registers, and its reliability across raters and across time. Speech and language therapists, other healthcare professionals and parents classified the speech of 139 children with cerebral palsy (85 boys, 54 girls; mean age 6.03 years, SD 1.09) from observation and previous knowledge of the children. Another group of health professionals rated children's speech from information in their medical notes. With the exception of parents, raters reclassified children's speech at least four weeks after their initial classification. Raters were asked to rate how easy the scale was to use and how well the scale described the child's speech production using Likert scales. Inter-rater reliability was moderate to substantial (k > .58 for all comparisons). Test–retest reliability was substantial to almost perfect for all groups (k > .68). Over 74% of raters found the scale easy or very easy to use; 66% of parents and over 70% of health care professionals judged the scale to describe children's speech well or very well. We conclude that the Viking Speech Scale is a reliable tool to describe the speech performance of children with cerebral palsy, which can be applied through direct observation of children or through case note review.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pennington L, Virella D, Mjøen T, daGraçaAndrada M, Murray J, Colver A, Himmelmann K, Rackauskaite G, Greitane A, Prasauskiene A, Andersen G, delaCruz J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Research in Developmental Disabilities

Year: 2013

Volume: 34

Issue: 10

Pages: 3202-3210

Print publication date: 01/10/2013

Online publication date: 24/07/2014

Acceptance date: 25/06/2013

Date deposited: 04/10/2014

ISSN (print): 0891-4222

ISSN (electronic): 1873-3379

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/j.ridd.2013.06.035

PubMed id: 23891732


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