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Children with cerebral palsy (CP) are generally delayed in arithmetic compared to their peers. The development of early numeracy performance in children with CP is not yet evident, nor have the factors associated with change over time been identified. Therefore, we examined the development of numeracy in children with CP over a two year period and studied which cognitive factors were predictive of arithmetic performance. A longitudinal study with three measurement waves separated by one year was conducted. 56 children participated (37 boys, M = 6.0 years, SD = .58). Standardized tasks were used to assess verbal- and visual–spatial working memory, executive functioning, fine motor skills and early numeracy performance. In addition, experimental tasks were developed to measure counting and arithmetic. The results showed that early numeracy performance of children with CP increased between 6 and 8 years of age. Structural equation modelling showed that early numeracy was strongly related to arithmetic performance at the consecutive year. Working memory, counting and fine motor skills were all positively related to early numeracy performance a year later. Furthermore, working memory and fine motor skills were precursors of the development of early numeracy. Considering the importance of numeracy and arithmetic in daily life and in academic and work success, children with CP could substantially benefit from intervention programs aimed at increasing working memory and early numeracy performance.

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Journal Article

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