Cognition and Communication Referential Strategies Used by Preschoolers With Specific Language Impairment Research Article
Research Article  |   October 01, 1997
Cognition and Communication
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Judith R. Johnston
    University of British Columbia Vancouver
  • Linda B. Smith
    Indiana University Bloomington
  • Peggy Box
    Indiana University Bloomington
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   October 01, 1997
Cognition and Communication
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1997, Vol. 40, 964-974. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4005.964
History: Received August 26, 1996 , Accepted January 30, 1997
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1997, Vol. 40, 964-974. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4005.964
History: Received August 26, 1996; Accepted January 30, 1997

Ten children with specific language impairment and 10 children with normal language development were asked to describe objects so that a listener could select them. Each trial targeted two out of a group of three toys. The targeted objects were identical or were similar in size or color. Children in the two groups did not differ in referential success, although children in both groups found the size items more difficult. Content analysis of the messages did reveal differences in the referential strategies used most frequently. Children with specific language impairment were more likely to mention the attributes of each object separately, rather than to describe the characteristics common to a pair of objects. Children in both groups talked about separate objects more often when talking about size than about color or object type. Use of this strategy could indicate the effects of attentional capacity on children's solutions to communication tasks.

Acknowledgments
Data for this report were collected by the third author in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an undergraduate honours degree in psychology. Portions of the project were supported by a Research Career Development Award to the second author from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (HD00589) and by a grant to the first author from the Natural Science and Engineering Council (OGP0138128). We wish to thank Carol McCord and Gloria Streit Olness for assistance in data collection, and the teachers, parents, and children at the Speech and Hearing Center and at the Penny Lane, Cherry Hill, Sunflower House, and Knee High Day Care Centers for their participation in this study.
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