Clinician–Child Interactions: Adjustments in Linguistic Complexity Purpose This pilot study examined the extent and nature of associations in the linguistic complexity used by child and clinician within conversational interactions. Method Correlation analyses focused on semantic and morphosyntactic language sample measures from an experienced speech-language clinician and 29 children with language impairment. Results ... Research Article
Research Article  |   May 01, 2007
Clinician–Child Interactions: Adjustments in Linguistic Complexity
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Laura S. DeThorne
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Ron W. Channell
    Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
  • Contact author: Laura S. DeThorne, University of Illinois, 901 South Sixth Street, Champaign, IL 61820. E-mail: lauras@uiuc.edu.
Article Information
Development / Normal Language Processing / Language Disorders / Research Articles
Research Article   |   May 01, 2007
Clinician–Child Interactions: Adjustments in Linguistic Complexity
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, May 2007, Vol. 16, 119-127. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2007/016)
History: Received February 13, 2006 , Revised July 28, 2006 , Accepted September 23, 2006
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, May 2007, Vol. 16, 119-127. doi:10.1044/1058-0360(2007/016)
History: Received February 13, 2006; Revised July 28, 2006; Accepted September 23, 2006
Web of Science® Times Cited: 7

Purpose This pilot study examined the extent and nature of associations in the linguistic complexity used by child and clinician within conversational interactions.

Method Correlation analyses focused on semantic and morphosyntactic language sample measures from an experienced speech-language clinician and 29 children with language impairment.

Results Positive associations emerged between a variety of child and clinician measures, even when the effect of child age was removed. The most robust effect related to clinician adjustments in both morphosyntactic complexity and vocabulary diversity associated with differences in children’s developmental sentence scores.

Conclusions Within a conversational exchange, the clinician in this study made significant adjustments in her linguistic complexity that were due, at least in part, to the linguistic complexity used by the children with whom she was interacting. Associations were similar to adjustments reported in prior studies of parent and teacher interactions with children with differing language abilities. However, the extent to which these findings generalize to other clinicians needs to be examined. Results from the present study challenge clinicians to dedicate conscious thought toward how their linguistic input should be structured, taking into consideration both the goal of the interaction and each child’s profile of linguistic strengths and weaknesses. Directions for future research are also provided.

Acknowledgments
Data collection for this project was supported by two separate training grants through the U.S. Department of Education (Grant H029D60035, James Halle, Principal Investigator; Grant H325D010009, Ruth Watkins, Principal Investigator), the Robert Sprague Thesis Award through the University of Illinois College of Applied Life Studies, and the On-Campus Dissertation Research Grant through the University of Illinois Graduate College. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Leslie Ann Williams, Shannon Lees, Patti Ruby, John McCarthy, Amanda Sabec, Erin Hunsicker, Sarah Smith, Rebecca Campbell, Lauren Wendorf, Amanda Austin, and Mary-Kelsey Coletto for their research assistance, and to Drs. Bonnie Johnson and Pamela Hadley for their helpful personal communications.
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