Growth of Language Skills in Preschool Children With Specific Language Impairment: Implications for Assessment and Intervention A retrospective longitudinal study of 9 preschool-aged children, all meeting the criteria for specific language impairment (SLI), was conducted. Language growth was documented while the children were between the ages of 3 and 5 years and enrolled in a language intervention program. Three language measures were obtained across this period, ... Research Article
Research Article  |   May 01, 2000
Growth of Language Skills in Preschool Children With Specific Language Impairment: Implications for Assessment and Intervention
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Lisa Goffman
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Jeanette Leonard
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Contact author: Lisa Goffman, Audiology & Speech Sciences, Heavilon Hall, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907. Email: goffman@purdue.edu
Article Information
Development / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Research Articles
Research Article   |   May 01, 2000
Growth of Language Skills in Preschool Children With Specific Language Impairment: Implications for Assessment and Intervention
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, May 2000, Vol. 9, 151-161. doi:10.1044/1058-0360.0902.151
History: Received October 8, 1999 , Accepted March 22, 2000
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, May 2000, Vol. 9, 151-161. doi:10.1044/1058-0360.0902.151
History: Received October 8, 1999; Accepted March 22, 2000

A retrospective longitudinal study of 9 preschool-aged children, all meeting the criteria for specific language impairment (SLI), was conducted. Language growth was documented while the children were between the ages of 3 and 5 years and enrolled in a language intervention program. Three language measures were obtained across this period, including mean length of utterance (MLU) in morphemes, lexical diversity (i.e., number of different words used per 50 utterances), and a finite verb morphology composite (i.e., percent correct production of regular past -ed, present third person singular -s, and both the copula and auxiliary forms of is, are, and am) . These longitudinal data were compared with cross-sectional data from 99 normally developing children who resided in the same community. Age-based comparisons revealed that, for most children with SLI, lexical diversity approached normal levels by the second year of data collection, whereas the production of finite verb morphology continued to be significantly delayed. A second set of comparisons, in which the children with SLI were compared with younger controls matched for MLU, further accentuated the persistence of difficulties with finite verb morphology. Applications of these language growth measures to assessment and intervention are discussed.

Authors’ Note
This work was partially supported by National Institutes of Health (NIDCD) grant DC03025. We are grateful to Laura McCormick for her assistance with data analysis. Hope Gulker’s collaborative role in developing and implementing the intervention program in which these children participated was invaluable. We also thank Carol Miller for her comments on an earlier version of this paper and for our ongoing discussions regarding the nature of language deficits in children with SLI. Larry Leonard’s contributions were indispensable, both because of the sharing of his normative data set and his insightful suggestions and ideas.
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