Schedule for Oral-Motor Assessment (SOMA): Methods of validation
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The Schedule for Oral Motor Assessment (SOMA) was developed for the purpose of objectively rating the oral-motor skills of preverbal children, with a view to identifying areas of deficient abilities that could have clinical significance. The instrument can be administered without special equipment, by a trained observer. Oral-motor function is assessed across a range of food textures and fluids. Ratings of oral-motor skills are largely made post hoc by analysis of a videorecording of the test administration. The test-retest and interrater reliability of the instrument have been shown to be excellent. Criterion validity was investigated by means of a novel ‘seeded cluster analysis’ procedure in which 127 young children were assessed, most of whom were between 8 and 24 months of age. Ten percent of the sample had known abnormal oral-motor function in association with cerebral palsy (ages between 12 and 42 months). Not only was criterion validity satisfactorily established by the analysis but an abbreviated version of the SOMA—suitable for screening purposes—was developed. This has been shown to have a positive predictive validity greater than 90% and sensitivity greater than 85% for the detection of infants with clinically significant oral-motor dysfunction.
Key wordsDysphagia Oral-motor skills Feeding Infancy Assessment Deglutition Deglution disorders
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