Sentence Diversity in Early Language Development: Recommendations for Target Selection and Progress Monitoring Purpose This clinical focus article describes how to assess and when to target diverse, simple sentences as part of early language intervention. Method The theoretical foundations and clinical motivations for assessing sentence diversity based on unique combinations of subjects and verbs are explained, followed by a description of ... Clinical Focus
Clinical Focus  |   May 03, 2018
Sentence Diversity in Early Language Development: Recommendations for Target Selection and Progress Monitoring
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Pamela A. Hadley
    Department of Speech and Hearing Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Megan M. McKenna
    Department of Speech and Hearing Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Matthew Rispoli
    Department of Speech and Hearing Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Pamela A. Hadley: phadley@illinois.edu
  • Megan M. McKenna is now affiliated with Northwestern Medicine, Central DuPage Hospital, Winfield, IL.
    Megan M. McKenna is now affiliated with Northwestern Medicine, Central DuPage Hospital, Winfield, IL.×
  • Editor-in-Chief: Krista Wilkinson
    Editor-in-Chief: Krista Wilkinson×
  • Editor: Li Sheng
    Editor: Li Sheng×
Article Information
Development / Normal Language Processing / Language Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Clinical Focus
Clinical Focus   |   May 03, 2018
Sentence Diversity in Early Language Development: Recommendations for Target Selection and Progress Monitoring
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, May 2018, Vol. 27, 553-565. doi:10.1044/2017_AJSLP-17-0098
History: Received July 2, 2017 , Revised September 18, 2017 , Accepted October 19, 2017
 
American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, May 2018, Vol. 27, 553-565. doi:10.1044/2017_AJSLP-17-0098
History: Received July 2, 2017; Revised September 18, 2017; Accepted October 19, 2017

Purpose This clinical focus article describes how to assess and when to target diverse, simple sentences as part of early language intervention.

Method The theoretical foundations and clinical motivations for assessing sentence diversity based on unique combinations of subjects and verbs are explained, followed by a description of how to compute the measure. Sentence diversity is then related to familiar developmental measures of lexical diversity, utterance length, and grammatical complexity in a sample of 40 typically developing toddlers at 30 months of age. Descriptive and correlational analyses are used to demonstrate how sentences become more diverse as utterances also become longer and more complex.

Conclusions The ability to produce simple sentences with diverse subject–verb combinations is proposed as a general developmental expectation for toddlers at 30 months of age. All 40 children produced at least 10 different subject–verb combinations in 30 min of parent–toddler conversation. Sentence diversity is also associated with familiar developmental measures. Recommendations are provided for using the measure of sentence diversity to inform treatment planning and monitor progress for young children with language disorders.

Supplemental Material https://doi.org/10.23641/asha.5895976

Acknowledgments
The database used in this article was collected as part of BCS-082251, NSF awarded to Matthew Rispoli. Portions of the data analysis were based on Megan McKenna's master's thesis, completed as a graduate student at the University of Illinois, and partially supported by a 2013 ASHA SPARC Award. We thank the parents and children who served as longitudinal participants in the study for making this project possible. We also extend sincere thanks to Stephanie Willard and Sarah Van Der Bosch for their assistance with independent reliability and Janna Oetting for feedback on earlier versions of this manuscript.
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