The Narrative Skills of Children with Specific Language Impairment and Typical Language

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Purpose. The purpose of this research project was to compare the narrative content organization (macrostructure) of young children with specific language impairment (SLI) and those with typical language development (TL). While it is well-known that young children with SLI display poorer use of grammar (microstructure) than their TL language similar peers (Leaonard, 2014; Rice et al., 1998) less is known about their use of macrostructure. Thus, the research question was: What are the narrative skills of children with SLI as compared to their language similar peers with development TL? Based on research with older children (Gillam et al., 2016), it was hypothesized that children with SLI will have poorer narrative macrostructure of narratives than those with TL. Method. The experiment compared 6 children with SLI (mean age: 5 years, 2 months) and 8 language similar children with TL (mean age: 4 years, 8 months). Language equivalency was determined based on administration of the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals-Preschool-2 and the Rice/Wexler Test of Early Grammatical Impairment. As well, all the participants passed a hearing screening and performed in the average range on the Preschool Test of Nonverbal Intelligence. Researchers read two books, Gossie and Gossie & Gertie (Dunrea, 2002, 2002) to each child. After reading each book, the child retold the story while looking through the pictures as a guide, yielding 12 SLI samples and 16 TL samples. The stories were audio-recorded and transcribed using a consensus method of reliability. Researchers then coded the stories for presence and quality of the following components: Character, Setting, Initiating Event, Internal Response, Plan, Action/Attempt, and Consequence. Once coded, the components were then scored on a 3-point scale using Gillam et al. (2012) narrative development progressmonitoring tool. Results and Conclusions. First, outcomes of the two stories were compared using an ANOVA design with Story Components and Story as within group factors. Because Gossie & Gertie had one more character than Gertie, it naturally scored significantly higher on Characters. Otherwise, the stories did not reliably differ and were combined for further analysis. Next a mixed model ANOVA design with Story Components as a within group factor and Group as a between group faction was conducted. The results indicated no statistically significant main effects or interactions. The findings did not support the hypothesis, suggesting that the narrative skills of children with SLI are equivalent to their language similar peers with TL. It may be as children get older and their narratives become more complex, children with SLI begin to fall further behind yielding the differences reported in the literature. This project prompts future questions about narrative macrostructure skills of young age-matched children with SLI and TL and use of macrostructure skills in more complex stories.


Johnson City, TN

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