The orofacial, oromotor, speech, and voice characteristics of adolescents in youth detention: a comparison of groups with and without prenatal alcohol exposure

Natalie R. Kippin, Suze Leitão, Rochelle Watkins, Raewyn Mutch, Amy Finlay-Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: Language disorder is highly prevalent in youth justice; however, orofacial, oromotor, speech, and voice anomalies have been largely overlooked. There has been some documentation of these among individuals with prenatal alcohol exposure (PAE), and adolescents with PAE are over-represented in youth justice. The aims of this exploratory study were to (1) identify the prevalence of orofacial, oromotor, speech, and voice anomalies among adolescents in youth detention and (2) examine how these compare between adolescents with and without PAE. Materials and Methods: In a youth detention centre, in which both non-Aboriginal and Aboriginal young peoples were detained, a speech-language pathologist conducted non-standardized orofacial and oromotor examinations with 95 adolescents, (47% with PAE). Observed speech and voice anomalies were also recorded. We analysed data according to PAE. Results: Features consistent with malocclusions, and anomalies with oromotor function, speech, and voice were observed among the adolescents. There was no statistical difference between the PAE and no-PAE groups for any measure. However, stuttering, monotone voice, breathy voice, and irregular uvula were only observed in the PAE group, and frontal lisp, tongue incoordination, and weak upper facial muscles were only observed among the no-PAE group. Conclusions: We identified high prevalence of orofacial, oromotor, speech, and voice anomalies among adolescents in youth detention. We discuss our findings in relation to our use of non-standardized assessment methods, assessment with Aboriginal young peoples, youth detention populations broadly being high-risk for health and developmental conditions, and the implications of the anomalies for the adolescents. Our findings are important for informing services in youth justice, and strengthen the argument that speech-language pathology services are essential in youth detention.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalSpeech, Language and Hearing
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jan 2022

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