Intervention for Verb Argument Structure in Children With Persistent SLI: A Randomized Control Trial PurposeThe authors aimed to establish whether 2 theoretically motivated interventions could improve use of verb argument structure in pupils with persistent specific language impairment (SLI).MethodTwenty-seven pupils with SLI (ages 11;0–16;1) participated in this randomized controlled trial with “blind” assessment. Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 therapy groups: syntactic–semantic, ... Article/Report
Article/Report  |   October 2007
Intervention for Verb Argument Structure in Children With Persistent SLI: A Randomized Control Trial
 
Author Notes
  • Contact author: Susan Ebbels, Moor House School, Mill Lane, Hurst Green, Oxted, Surrey RH8 9AQ, United Kingdom. E-mail: ebbelss@moorhouseschool.co.uk.
  • © 2007 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language
Article/Report   |   October 2007
Intervention for Verb Argument Structure in Children With Persistent SLI: A Randomized Control Trial
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2007, Vol. 50, 1330-1349. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/093)
History: Received March 27, 2006 , Revised October 5, 2006 , Accepted February 5, 2007
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 2007, Vol. 50, 1330-1349. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2007/093)
History: Received March 27, 2006; Revised October 5, 2006; Accepted February 5, 2007
Web of Science® Times Cited: 38
Acknowledgments
This study was completed in partial fulfillment for a PhD by Susan Ebbels at the Center for Developmental Language Disorders and Cognitive Science, University College London. The PhD was jointly supervised by Julie Dockrell and Heather van der Lely. Special thanks to Moor House School, which supported Susan Ebbels’s PhD.
We would like to thank Courtenay Norbury, who acted as the blind assessor for this project, as well as Mike Coleman and Chris Fryer, who assisted with the technical construction of the argument structure assessment. We would also like to thank the pupils who took part in the study and Moor House School, Surrey, United Kingdom, for providing the accommodation and equipment for the intervention.

PurposeThe authors aimed to establish whether 2 theoretically motivated interventions could improve use of verb argument structure in pupils with persistent specific language impairment (SLI).

MethodTwenty-seven pupils with SLI (ages 11;0–16;1) participated in this randomized controlled trial with “blind” assessment. Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 therapy groups: syntactic–semantic, semantic, and control. All pupils received 9 weekly half-hour individual therapy sessions. They were assessed on a specifically designed video test pretherapy, posttherapy, and at follow-up.

ResultsPupils receiving the syntactic–semantic and semantic therapies made significant progress (d > 1.0), which was maintained at follow-up and generalized to control verbs. Both therapies improved linking of arguments to syntax, and the syntactic–semantic therapy tended to increase use of optional arguments. Pupils receiving the control therapy made no progress.

ConclusionBoth methods of argument structure therapy were effective. Comparisons of their effectiveness in specific areas led to the hypotheses that the pupils' initial difficulties with linking resulted from ill-defined semantic representations, whereas their limited use of arguments may have resulted from syntactic difficulties. When therapy is theoretically grounded, it can inform theories, be time limited, and be effective for older children with SLI.

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