The main objective of this study was to explore the feasibility and treatment sensitivity of measures of preschool oral language and emergent literacy and numeracy for assessing developing skills of preschool children with sleep disordered breathing (SDB) in New Zealand following adenotonsillectomy.
Eight preschool children aged 3 years 1 month-4 years 5 months were recruited from a surgical waiting list and matched to controls for age (±3 months) and sex. Tasks designed to be sensitive to growth in oral language and emergent literacy and numeracy were reviewed for contextual fit, adapted as necessary for the New Zealand context, and administered before surgery (baseline), three months post-surgery, and at a seven-month follow-up alongside other measures.
Growth in oral language and emergent literacy was greater for case children than matched controls, suggesting that the tasks were sensitive to treatment effects. No such effect was observed for early numeracy tasks. Case children had more symptoms of SDB and behavioral and emotional difficulties than matched controls prior to surgery, and improvements were reported in these domains following surgery.
Oral language and emergent literacy measures trialled in the present research showed potential for evaluating treatment outcomes in pre-schoolers with SDB, and provided preliminary evidence that early treatment of SDB could have positive effects on learning in these domains.