Sampling Context Affects MLU in the Language of Adolescents With Down Syndrome Purpose The authors describe the procedures used to explain an unexpected finding that adolescents with Down syndrome (DS) had a lower mean length of utterance (MLU) than typically developing (TD) children in interviews without picture support, but not in narratives supported by wordless picture books. They hypothesize that the picture ... Research Note
Research Note  |   April 01, 2006
Sampling Context Affects MLU in the Language of Adolescents With Down Syndrome
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Sally Miles
    Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin—Madison
  • Robin Chapman
    Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin—Madison
  • Heidi Sindberg
    Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin—Madison
  • Contact author: Sally Miles, 540 Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, WI 53705. Email: miles@wisc.edu
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Special Populations / Genetic & Congenital Disorders / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Language Disorders / Language / Research Articles
Research Note   |   April 01, 2006
Sampling Context Affects MLU in the Language of Adolescents With Down Syndrome
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2006, Vol. 49, 325-337. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2006/026)
History: Received September 30, 2003 , Revised March 19, 2004 , Accepted September 6, 2005
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2006, Vol. 49, 325-337. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2006/026)
History: Received September 30, 2003; Revised March 19, 2004; Accepted September 6, 2005
Web of Science® Times Cited: 31

Purpose The authors describe the procedures used to explain an unexpected finding that adolescents with Down syndrome (DS) had a lower mean length of utterance (MLU) than typically developing (TD) children in interviews without picture support, but not in narratives supported by wordless picture books. They hypothesize that the picture support of the narrative context increased the MLU for the group with DS alone.

Method Adolescents with DS (n = 14) and TD children (n = 14) matched for receptive syntax narrated picture storybooks and participated in interviews. Transcription reliability, intelligibility/fluency, grammatical errors, discourse and sampling contexts, and discourse characteristics were examined for their effects on MLU.

Results The DS group showed a greater responsiveness to adult questions than the TD group; an alternate MLU without yes/no responses showed the same interaction of group and context as the original finding. An additional comparison of MLUs, obtained from narratives present in the interview and narratives elicited using picture books, showed that picture support in narrative increased MLUs only for the group with DS.

Conclusion Picture support, rather than narrative context alone, increased MLUs for the group with DS. Clinical use of narratives and picture support in assessment and intervention with individuals with DS is discussed.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by National Institutes of Health Grant R01 HD23353 to Robin Chapman, with additional funding from the National Down Syndrome Society. We thank Cynthia Renk for her diligent work in transcription and reliability.
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