Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Processing Deficits in Children with Language Impairments

Archibald, L.M.D., & Noonan, N. B. (In press). Processing Deficits in Children with Language Impairments. To appear in E.L. Bavin & L. Naigles (eds), The Cambridge Handbook of Child Language, 2nd ed. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

In this chapter, Archibald and Noonan review and evaluate theoretical accounts of specific language impairment (SLI), an unexpected and unexplained developmental delay in the onset or development of oral language in children. Children with SLI receive lower scores than age-matched peers on a variety of measures including many not related to language, but the language deficit in SLI is more severe than deficits in any other area.

The disproportionate linguistic impairment in SLI has resulted in investigations of cognitive mechanisms responsible for processing language-related (or domain-specific) information. Such processes include auditory processing and phonological processing. Many studies have reported SLI deficits on tasks tapping both of these processes.

The findings of impairments on nonlinguistic tasks in SLI groups have lead to a focus on cognitive mechanisms responsible for processing different kinds of information, only some of which may be related to language. These processes are considered domain-general and include attention, working memory, executive functions, and implicit learning.

It may be that the best explanation for the range of mixed findings reported is to consider SLI as resulting from a variety of possible paths. There may be several genetic and environmental factors that could contribute to a child being considered to have (or not have) a language delay. If this is the case, it will be necessary to understand each child’s profile of strengths and weaknesses to understand factors contributing to his/her language impairment profile.


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