Construction of Graphic Symbol Utterances by Children, Teenagers, and Adults: The Effect of Structure and Task Demands Purpose This study investigated the impact of syntactic complexity and task demands on construction of utterances using picture communication symbols by participants from 3 age groups with no communication disorders. Method Participants were 30 children (7;0 [years;months] to 8;11), 30 teenagers (12;0 to 13;11), and 30 adults (18 ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 2007
Construction of Graphic Symbol Utterances by Children, Teenagers, and Adults: The Effect of Structure and Task Demands
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Natacha Trudeau
    Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Ste-Justine, Montréal, Quebec, Canada, and Faculté de Médecine, Université de Montréal
  • Ann Sutton
    Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Ste-Justine, Montréal, Quebec, Canada, and Faculté de Médecine, Université de Montréal
  • Emmanuelle Dagenais
    Share Family and Community Services, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • Sophie de Broeck
    Faculté de Médecine, Université de Montréal
  • Jill Morford
    University of New Mexico, Albuquerque
  • Contact author: Natacha Trudeau, 2375 Côte Ste-Catherine Road, Montreal, Quebec H3T 1A8, Canada. E-mail: Natacha.Trudeau@umontreal.ca.
Article Information
Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / Augmentative & Alternative Communication / Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 2007
Construction of Graphic Symbol Utterances by Children, Teenagers, and Adults: The Effect of Structure and Task Demands
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2007, Vol. 50, 1314-1329. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/092)
History: Received February 27, 2006 , Revised July 17, 2006 , Accepted February 2, 2007
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2007, Vol. 50, 1314-1329. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/092)
History: Received February 27, 2006; Revised July 17, 2006; Accepted February 2, 2007
Web of Science® Times Cited: 17

Purpose This study investigated the impact of syntactic complexity and task demands on construction of utterances using picture communication symbols by participants from 3 age groups with no communication disorders.

Method Participants were 30 children (7;0 [years;months] to 8;11), 30 teenagers (12;0 to 13;11), and 30 adults (18 years and above). All participants constructed graphic symbol utterances to describe photographs presented with spoken French stimuli. Stimuli included simple and complex (object relative and subject relative) utterances describing the photographs, which were presented either 1 at a time (neutral condition) or in an array of 4 (contrast condition).

Results Simple utterances lead to more uniform response patterns than complex utterances. Among complex utterances, subject relative sentences appeared more difficult to convey. Increasing the need for message clarity (i.e., contrast condition) elicited changes in the production of graphic symbol sequences for complex propositions. The effects of syntactic complexity and task demands were more pronounced for children.

Conclusion Graphic symbol utterance construction appears to involve more than simply transferring spoken language skills. One possible explanation is that this type of task requires higher levels of metalinguistic ability. Clinical implications and directions for further research are discussed.

Acknowledgments
This work was funded by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada to the first, second, and fifth authors. Some of the data discussed in this article were presented at the 2003 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention, Chicago, Illinois, and at the 2006 International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication Biannual Conference, Düsseldorf, Germany. We wish to thank all the research assistants who helped collect the data, and all the participants who gave time to the study.
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