Influence of family environment on language outcomes in children with myelomeningocele

Behroze Vachha, R. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Previously, our studies demonstrated language differences impacting academic performance among children with myelomeningocele and shunted hydrocephalus (MMSH). This follow-up study considers the environmental facilitators within families (achievement orientation, intellectual-cultural orientation, active recreational orientation, independence) among a cohort of children with MMSH and their relationship to language performance. Methods: Fifty-eight monolingual, English-speaking children (36 females; mean age: 10.1 years; age range: 7-16 years) with MMSH were evaluated. Exclusionary criteria were prior shunt infection; seizure or shunt malfunction within the previous 3 months; uncorrected visual or auditory impairments; prior diagnoses of mental retardation or attention deficit disorder. The Comprehensive Assessment of Spoken Language (CASL) and the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI) were administered individually to all participants. The CASL Measures four subsystems: lexical, syntactic, supralinguistic and pragmatic. Parents completed the Family Environment Scale (FES) questionnaire and provided background demographic information. Spearman correlation analyses and partial correlation analyses were performed. Results: Mean intelligence scores for the MMSH group: full scale IQ 92.2 (SD=11.9). The CASL revealed statistically significant difficulty for supralinguistic and pragmatic (or social) language tasks. FES scores fell within the average range for the group. Spearman correlation and partial correlation analyses revealed statistically significant positive relationships for the FES'intellectual-cultural orientation' variable and performance within the four language subsystems. Socio-economic status (SES) characteristics were analyzed and did not discriminate language performance when the intellectual-cultural orientation factor was taken into account. Conclusion: The role of family facilitators on language skills in children with MMSH has not previously been described.The relationship between language performance and the families' value on intellectual/cultural activities seems both statistically and intuitively sound. Focused interest in the integration of family values and practices should assist developmental specialists in supporting families and children within their most natural environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)589-596
Number of pages8
JournalChild: Care, Health and Development
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2005


  • Family environment
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Language
  • Myelomeningocele
  • Spina bifida

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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