Symbolic Play Development in Toddlers With Expressive Specific Language Impairment (SLI-E) Twenty toddlers with expressive specific language impairment (SLI-E) and 20 toddlers with normal language development were compared in their symbolic play development. The groups did not differ in amount of engagement with the toys or in functional conventional play behaviors. However, the children with SLI-E displayed less decentered play (use ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 1992
Symbolic Play Development in Toddlers With Expressive Specific Language Impairment (SLI-E)
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Leslie Rescorla
    Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA
  • Marijke Goossens
    Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA
  • Contact author: Leslie Rescorla, PhD, Department of Human Development, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010.
Article Information
Development / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 1992
Symbolic Play Development in Toddlers With Expressive Specific Language Impairment (SLI-E)
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1992, Vol. 35, 1290-1302. doi:10.1044/jshr.3506.1290
History: Received March 13, 1991 , Accepted March 3, 1992
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 1992, Vol. 35, 1290-1302. doi:10.1044/jshr.3506.1290
History: Received March 13, 1991; Accepted March 3, 1992

Twenty toddlers with expressive specific language impairment (SLI-E) and 20 toddlers with normal language development were compared in their symbolic play development. The groups did not differ in amount of engagement with the toys or in functional conventional play behaviors. However, the children with SLI-E displayed less decentered play (use of play schemes with a doll or another person), less well-developed sequential play, and fewer occurrences of symbolic play transformations (use of a neutral object or an absent object to carry out pretending). The provision of structure in the form of thematically related toy sets, instructions, and modeling did not reduce the discrepancy between demonstrated play behaviors of toddlers with SLI-E and their normally developing peers. Three possible explanations for this discrepancy are considered: a "stylistic" difference in play, a developmental lag in symbol use, or a deficit in retrieval of stored symbolic representation.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by grants to the first author from the Bryn Mawr College Faculty Research fund and from the National Institutes of Health (NICHD AREA grant 1-R15-HD22355–01). Portions of these data were presented at the 19th Annual Symposium of the Jean Piaget Society, Philadelphia, PA, June 1989. The authors wish to thank Ellen Schwartz for assistance in collection of these data, Elisabeth Davis for serving as the second coder, and Bob Milrod for technical and personal support. Finally, thanks are due to the children and mothers who made this research possible.
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