Department of Psychology, Health and Professional Development
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Background: Morpho-syntax has been well researched in Specific Language Impairment (SLI) and there is general agreement that children with SLI have particular difficulties with tense marking. Less well researched is the role that aspect plays in the difficulties found in tense marking, especially as tense and aspect are often confounded in English. Initial investigation of the understanding of aspect in preschool children with SLI suggests that they are less sensitive to aspect and its interaction with tense than Typically Developing (TD) children. It is unclear however what the developmental trajectory of their understanding of aspect is and its interaction with tense and whether these difficulties are still found in older children and adolescents with SLI.
Aims: To investigate comprehension of the grammatical aspect contrast between completed events using the simple past tense –ed/irregular (perfective grammatical aspect) and on-going events using the past progressive (imperfective grammatical aspect). The role of lexical aspect was also investigated through the balanced use of verbs that were inherently telic (i.e. have a natural end-point) and verbs that required the addition of prepositional phrase for a telic interpretation when used in the perfective aspect condition.
Methods and procedures: A sentence–picture matching task was administered to 10 participants with SLI (aged 12;10 – 16;8 years) and 30 language ability matched TD children who were split into three groups (mean ages: 5;10, 7;4 and 9;2).
Outcomes and results: Adult-like performance was found by all groups on the perfective aspect condition but only by the oldest group of TD children on the imperfective aspect condition. The performance of the group with SLI was consistent with their much younger language ability matched TD children in their understanding of the progressive –ing when used to describe on-going events that have taken place in the past. The lexical aspect of the telicity of the verbs was not found to have any significant effect on performance.
Conclusions and implications: Although further investigation of the understanding of aspect (both comprehension and production) is needed, the results have implications for therapy. The past progressive –ing construction is important, particularly for providing context and background information in narratives, but it is not explicitly taught in schools. Therefore, some focus on the temporal nature of tense marking in therapy may be beneficial to individuals with SLI in understanding the temporal nature of events and how aspect interacts with tense.
This study investigates phonetic categorisation and cue weighting in adolescents and young adults with Specific Language Impairment (SLI). We manipulated two acoustic cues, vowel duration and F1 offset frequency, that signal word-final stop consonant voicing ([t] and [d]) in English. Ten individuals with SLI (14;0-21;4 years), ten age-matched controls (CA; 14;6-21;9 years) and ten non-matched Adult controls (23;3-36;0 years) labelled synthetic CVC nonwords in an identification task. The results showed that the adolescents and young adults with SLI were less consistent than controls in the identification of the good category representatives. The group with SLI also assigned less weight to vowel duration than the Adult controls. However, no direct relationship between phonetic categorisation, cue weighting and language skills was found. These findings indicate that some individuals with SLI have speech perception deficits but they are not necessarily associated with oral language skills.
There are two major types of reading disorder; developmental dyslexia and reading comprehension impairment. The primary difficulty in dyslexia is with the accurate and fluent reading of single words, whilst in reading comprehension impairment words can be read accurately but there is no or little understanding of what is read. Using the causal modelling framework, the underlying causes of the two disorders are reviewed together with the co-occurrence of reading and language disorders. The rationale for viewing reading as a dimensional disorder, where the difficulties experienced are on a continuum rather than using cut-off points to identify disorders is also reviewed.