Multisign Combinations by Children With Intellectual Impairments An Analysis of Language Skills Research Article
Research Article  |   April 01, 2000
Multisign Combinations by Children With Intellectual Impairments
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Nicola Grove
    Department of Language & Communication Science City University, London
  • Julie Dockrell
    Department of Psychology South Bank University, London
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: n.c.grove@city.ac.uk
  • Corresponding author:Nicola Grove, PhD, Department of Language & Communication Science, City University, Northampton Square, London EC1V 0HB. Email: n.c.grove@city.ac.uk
Article Information
Development / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 01, 2000
Multisign Combinations by Children With Intellectual Impairments
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2000, Vol. 43, 309-323. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4302.309
History: Received December 22, 1998 , Accepted July 23, 1999
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2000, Vol. 43, 309-323. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4302.309
History: Received December 22, 1998; Accepted July 23, 1999

Research suggests that people with intellectual impairments who use manual signs to augment or substitute for speech rarely progress beyond the stage of single signs and that word order is particularly problematic. However, the majority of studies have focused on experimental tasks, and relatively little is known about spontaneous sign production in naturalistic settings. The present study explored the linguistic development in sign and speech of 10 children who relied on manual signs (the Makaton vocabulary) as their main means of communication. Mean utterance length in sign ranged from 1.0 to 2.5, and analysis of semantic relations, lexical development, and word order suggested that the children had not developed their language beyond MLU Stage I. Examination of their abilities within the modality of sign indicated that some children were able to manipulate features of sign at a sublexical level. The results are discussed in relation to the language input by teachers, and inferences are drawn regarding the underlying modality of linguistic representation in children who use manual signs.

Acknowledgments
This research is based upon a dissertation submitted by the first author in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the PhD in Education at London University. Funding for the research was supplied by the Economic and Social Research Council (Grant 00429134115). The authors gratefully express their thanks to the young people, their teachers and speech therapists who participated in the study. We also thank Professor Klaus Wedell and Professor Bencie Woll for their helpful advice at all stages of the work and the anonymous reviewers who provided constructive comments on earlier drafts of this paper.
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