Identification of Clinical Markers of Specific Language Impairment in Adults PurposeTo investigate the usefulness of 3 tasks known to be effective diagnostic clinical markers of specific language impairment (SLI) in children: (a) nonword repetition, (b) sentence repetition, and (c) grammaticality judgments of finiteness marking.MethodTwo groups of young adults, 13 with SLI and 18 with typical language, completed 3 experimental tasks: ... Article
Article  |   April 01, 2010
Identification of Clinical Markers of Specific Language Impairment in Adults
 
Author Notes
  • Contact author: Gerard H. Poll, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, The Pennsylvania State University, 308G Ford Building, University Park, PA 16802. E-mail: ghp110@psu.edu.
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Language
Article   |   April 01, 2010
Identification of Clinical Markers of Specific Language Impairment in Adults
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2010, Vol. 53, 414-429. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/08-0016)
History: Received January 21, 2008 , Revised January 9, 2009 , Accepted July 1, 2009
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2010, Vol. 53, 414-429. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/08-0016)
History: Received January 21, 2008; Revised January 9, 2009; Accepted July 1, 2009
Web of Science® Times Cited: 42

PurposeTo investigate the usefulness of 3 tasks known to be effective diagnostic clinical markers of specific language impairment (SLI) in children: (a) nonword repetition, (b) sentence repetition, and (c) grammaticality judgments of finiteness marking.

MethodTwo groups of young adults, 13 with SLI and 18 with typical language, completed 3 experimental tasks: (a) nonword repetition, (b) sentence repetition, and (c) grammaticality judgments of sentences that were either correct or contained an omitted finiteness marker, an overt agreement error, or an omitted progressive –ing. Analyses included receiver operating characteristic curve analyses and computation of likelihood ratios associated with the use of each task as a clinical marker for SLI, as well as development of a logistic regression model that used multiple tasks as predictors.

ResultsEach marker task significantly contributed to classification of adults as affected or unaffected by SLI, with moderate positive and negative likelihood ratios. A combination of the 3 marker tasks was the best predictor of affectedness status with moderate to large likelihood ratios.

ConclusionsThe results suggest that SLI persists into adulthood and that effective clinical markers of this disorder are similar to those used to identify SLI in children. Refinement of these tasks to increase their likelihood ratios will improve their usefulness in diagnosing SLI in adults.

Acknowledgments
This work was supported, in part, by funding provided to Gerard H. Poll from the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at The Pennsylvania State University. Portions of this article are based on a master’s thesis submitted to the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at The Pennsylvania State University by Gerard H. Poll. Preliminary results were presented at the Symposium on Research in Child Language Disorders in Madison, Wisconsin, June 2007. We thank the school staff members who cooperated with this research and the young adults who participated.
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