Speech disruptions in the sentence formulation of schoolage children with specific language impairment

Denise A. Finneran, Laurence B. Leonard, Carol A. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Many schoolage children with specific language impairment produce sentences that appear to conform to the adult grammar. It may be premature to conclude from this, however, that their language formulation ability is age appropriate. Aims: To determine whether a more subtle measure of language use, speech disruptions during sentence formulation, might serve to distinguish children with specific language impairment from their typically developing peers at an age when grammatical accuracy was high. We analysed the rate of speech disruptions in simple sentence production in schoolage children with specific language impairment and typically developing agematched peers. We predicted that 1 the specific language impairment group would exhibit more speech disruptions than the typically developing group as a result of reduced language proficiency even when grammatical accuracy was high and 2 the specific language impairment group would demonstrate greater reductions in disruption frequency as compared with the typically developing group when given sentences that model the target syntactic structures. Methods & Procedures: Twentyeight children 17 specific language impairment, 11 typically developing, mean 810 years with no history of stuttering were presented with a series of picture pairs. The examiner described the first picture using a simple sentence and asked the child to repeat the sentence the child then described the second picture. There were two priming conditions Matching Syntax condition paired pictures requiring different syntactic structures and Different Syntax condition paired pictures requiring different syntax structures. All testing was audiorecorded and speech disruptions repetitions, revisions, fillers, long silent pauses were transcribed and tabulated for each target response. The data were analysed by analysis of variance ANOVA. Outcomes & Results The specific language impairment group demonstrated a significantly greater number of speech disruptions when compared with the typically developing group. There was no effect for priming. Conclusions & Implications: Schoolage children with specific language impairment appear to have difficulty with sentence formulation when compared with typically developing peers even when grammatical accuracy is high. We concluded that schoolage children with specific language impairment may demonstrate subtle but persistent language formulation difficulties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-286
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
Volume44
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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