Research Note  |   June 2010
Differentiating Cantonese-Speaking Preschool Children With and Without SLI Using MLU and Lexical Diversity (D)
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Anita M.-Y. Wong
    University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong-SAR-China
  • Thomas Klee
    University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Stephanie F. Stokes
    Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia
  • Paul Fletcher
    University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
  • Laurence B. Leonard
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Contact author: Anita M.-Y. Wong, Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong-SAR-China. Email: amywong@hkusua.hku.hk.
  • Stephanie F. Stokes is now with the Department of Communication Disorders, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.
    Stephanie F. Stokes is now with the Department of Communication Disorders, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.×
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Speech
Research Note   |   June 2010
Differentiating Cantonese-Speaking Preschool Children With and Without SLI Using MLU and Lexical Diversity (D)
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research June 2010, Vol.53, 794-799. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/08-0195)
History: Accepted 09 Aug 2009 , Received 19 Sep 2008 , Revised 24 Mar 2009
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research June 2010, Vol.53, 794-799. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/08-0195)
History: Accepted 09 Aug 2009 , Received 19 Sep 2008 , Revised 24 Mar 2009

Purpose: In this study, the authors examined the diagnostic accuracy of a composite clinical assessment measure based on mean length of utterance (MLU), lexical diversity (D), and age (Klee, Stokes, Wong, Fletcher, & Gavin, 2004) in a second, independent sample of 4-year-old Cantonese-speaking children with and without specific language impairment (SLI).

Method: The composite measure was calculated from play-based, conversational language samples of 15 children with SLI and 14 children without SLI. Scores were dichotomized and compared to diagnostic outcomes using a reference standard based on clinical judgment supported by test scores.

Results: Eleven of 15 children with SLI and 8 of 14 children with typical language skills were correctly classified by the dichotomized composite measure. The measure’s sensitivity in this second sample was 73.3% (95% confidence interval [CI] 48%–89%); specificity was 57.1% (95% CI 33%–79%); positive likelihood ratio was 1.71 (95% CI 0.87–3.37); and negative likelihood ratio was 0.47 (95% CI 0.18–1.21).

Conclusions: The diagnostic accuracy of the composite measure was substantially lower than in the original study, suggesting that it is unlikely to be informative for clinical use in its present form. The value of replication studies is discussed.

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