Hierarchical Planning Abilities in Children With Specific Language Impairments The present study examined Cromer’s (1983) claim that children with language impairments have a hierarchical planning deficit that affects language as well as performance on complex construction tasks. Subjects were 30 boys (ages 5–7 years), 15 with specific language impairments (SLI) and 15 with normally developing language. Children were asked ... Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 1995
Hierarchical Planning Abilities in Children With Specific Language Impairments
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Alan G. Kamhi
    University of Memphis, Memphis, TN
  • Mary F. Ward
    University of Memphis, Memphis, TN
  • Elizabeth A. Mills
    University of Memphis, Memphis, TN
  • Contact author: Alan Kamhi, PhD, Memphis Speech and Hearing Center, University of Memphis, 807 Jefferson Avenue, Memphis, TN 38105. E-mail: kamhia@cc.memphis.edu
  • Currently affiliated with the Department of Speech, Kansas State University
    Currently affiliated with the Department of Speech, Kansas State University×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 1995
Hierarchical Planning Abilities in Children With Specific Language Impairments
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1995, Vol. 38, 1108-1116. doi:10.1044/jshr.3805.1108
History: Received March 22, 1994 , Accepted March 23, 1995
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1995, Vol. 38, 1108-1116. doi:10.1044/jshr.3805.1108
History: Received March 22, 1994; Accepted March 23, 1995

The present study examined Cromer’s (1983) claim that children with language impairments have a hierarchical planning deficit that affects language as well as performance on complex construction tasks. Subjects were 30 boys (ages 5–7 years), 15 with specific language impairments (SLI) and 15 with normally developing language. Children were asked to build four hierarchical structures: a block construction, a puzzle construction, a simple straw construction, and a complex straw construction. Children who failed to complete the complex straw construction were taught how to construct the model using a sequential strategy. The two groups tended to perform comparably on the block and complex straw construction, the easiest and hardest of the four constructions. The two groups performed least comparably on the puzzle, simple straw construction, and the training task. On the basis of these findings and recent work by Greenfield (1991), we concluded that it is time to reject the notion that a central hierarchical planning mechanism underlies language and non-language structures that contain hierarchical components. The possible exception is early in development before language and manual actions become more autonomous and modular in nature.

Acknowledgments
The authors wish to thank Marci Altemus and Ann Carpenter from the Marion School District In West Memphis, AR, for their cooperation in making children available for this study. This study was partially supported by the Center for Research Initiatives and Strategies for the Communicatively Impaired.
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