JOURNAL ARTICLE
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Check-list for the assessment of functional impairment in children with congenital aural atresia.

OBJECTIVES: Congenital Aural Atresia (CAA) is a deformity of the external ear and it is commonly associated with malformations of middle and inner ear and, in some cases, with other facial deformities. Very few assessment measures exist for evaluating the functional impairment in children with CAA. Purpose of this study is to introduce and describe an assessment Checklist, (nominated FOS Checklist) that covers feeding abilities (F), oralmotor skills (O), communication/language development (S) in children with CAA. FOS wants to offer a range of assessment providing a profile of the child in comparison to hearing peers and it aims to make clinicians able to identify additional problems and areas of difficulties as well as specific abilities and skills. Secondary, we want to investigate the presence of correlations between disorders and side of CAA.

METHODS: a new Checklist (FOS Checklist) was administered to 68 children with CAA.

RESULTS: Feeding abilities are age-adequate in 94,3% of all patients. 54,4% of all patients are in need for further assessment of their oral-motor skills; delays in language development were found in 44,1% of cases. Orofacial development delays have been observed in 57.2% of subjects among the bilateral CAA group, in 53.9% among the right CAA group and in 53.4% among the left CAA group. Patients referred for further language evaluation were 42,9% in the bilateral CAA group, 33.3% in the right CAA group and 33.3% in the left CAA group. According to the χ2 analysis, referral for further assessment is independent from side of aural atresia.

CONCLUSIONS: Subjects with bilateral CAA are more likely to be referred for further assessment, both for oral motor aspects and for speech perception and language development. However, there is not a significant statistical difference between the performances of children with bilateral or unilateral CAA. FOS Checklist is simple, reliable and time effective and can be used in everyday clinical practice. FOS enable clinicians to identify additional problems and areas of difficulties as well as specific abilities and skills; moreover, FOS allows to determine appropriate referrals and intervention strategies.

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