On the Sensitivity and Specificity of Nonword Repetition and Sentence Recall to Language and Memory Impairments in Children PurposeThe present study examined the utility of 2 measures proposed as markers of specific language impairment (SLI) in identifying specific impairments in language or working memory in school-age children.MethodA group of 400 school-age children completed a 5-min screening consisting of nonword repetition and sentence recall. A subset of low (n ... Article
Article  |   August 01, 2009
On the Sensitivity and Specificity of Nonword Repetition and Sentence Recall to Language and Memory Impairments in Children
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Lisa M. D. Archibald
    The University of Western Ontario
  • Marc F. Joanisse
    The University of Western Ontario
  • Contact author: Lisa Archibald, School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Elborn College, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario N6G 1H1, Canada. E-mail: larchiba@uwo.ca.
Article Information
Language Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language
Article   |   August 01, 2009
On the Sensitivity and Specificity of Nonword Repetition and Sentence Recall to Language and Memory Impairments in Children
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2009, Vol. 52, 899-914. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/08-0099)
History: Received May 14, 2008 , Revised November 2, 2008 , Accepted December 22, 2008
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2009, Vol. 52, 899-914. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/08-0099)
History: Received May 14, 2008; Revised November 2, 2008; Accepted December 22, 2008
Web of Science® Times Cited: 82

PurposeThe present study examined the utility of 2 measures proposed as markers of specific language impairment (SLI) in identifying specific impairments in language or working memory in school-age children.

MethodA group of 400 school-age children completed a 5-min screening consisting of nonword repetition and sentence recall. A subset of low (n = 52) and average (n = 38) scorers completed standardized tests of language, short-term and working memory, and nonverbal intelligence.

ResultsApproximately equal numbers of children were identified with specific impairments in either language or working memory. A group about twice as large had deficits in both language and working memory. Sensitivity of the screening measure for both SLI and specific working memory impairments was 84% or greater, although specificity was closer to 50%. Sentence recall performance below the 10th percentile was associated with sensitivity and specificity values above 80% for SLI.

ConclusionsDevelopmental deficits may be specific to language or working memory, or include impairments in both areas. Sentence recall is a useful clinical marker of SLI and combined language and working memory impairments.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported by a National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada postdoctoral fellowship awarded to the first author and by a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Operating Grant awarded to the second author. The valuable assistance of participating school personnel and families is gratefully acknowledged.
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