Initial Acquisition of Mental Graphemic Representations in Children with Language Impairment PurposeThe authors examined initial acquisition of mental graphemic representations (MGRs) for a set of pseudowords in children with language impairment (LI). They also determined whether the linguistic properties of the words (i.e., phonotactic and orthotactic probabilities) influenced MGR learning and whether the ability to acquire initial MGRs was related to ... Article
Article  |   February 01, 2010
Initial Acquisition of Mental Graphemic Representations in Children with Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Julie A. Wolter
    Wichita State University, Kansas
  • Kenn Apel
    Florida State University, Tallahassee
  • Contact author: Julie Wolter, who is now with the Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education, Utah State University, 1000 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84322. E-mail: julie.wolter@usu.edu.
Article Information
Development / Language Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language
Article   |   February 01, 2010
Initial Acquisition of Mental Graphemic Representations in Children with Language Impairment
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2010, Vol. 53, 179-195. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/07-0130)
History: Received June 15, 2007 , Revised January 31, 2008 , Accepted May 13, 2009
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, February 2010, Vol. 53, 179-195. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2009/07-0130)
History: Received June 15, 2007; Revised January 31, 2008; Accepted May 13, 2009
Web of Science® Times Cited: 20

PurposeThe authors examined initial acquisition of mental graphemic representations (MGRs) for a set of pseudowords in children with language impairment (LI). They also determined whether the linguistic properties of the words (i.e., phonotactic and orthotactic probabilities) influenced MGR learning and whether the ability to acquire initial MGRs was related to performance on reading and spelling measures. The authors compared these children’s initial acquisition of MGRs to a group of children with typical language (TL) skills.

MethodA written fast mapping procedure was administered to 25 kindergarten children with LI and 31 with TL. During the procedure, the children were exposed to novel pseudowords varying in phonotactic and orthotactic probabilities in a computer-based, storybook reading task and then were asked to generate and identify those pseudoword spellings. Additionally, reading and spelling tasks were administered.

ResultsChildren with LI acquired some initial MGRs as evidenced by their ability to identify some pseudowords; however, their ability to identify and generate pseudowords was significantly poorer than that of the comparison group. Similar to their TL peers, the ability to identify pseudoword spellings by children with LI was affected by the linguistic properties of words, and written fast mapping performance was related to spelling performance. However, unlike the comparison group, written fast mapping performance of children with LI was not related to performance on a reading composite measure.

ConclusionsThe authors propose that children with LI are less robust at developing initial MGRs than are children with TL and that this poor ability to acquire initial MGRs likely places them at risk for later literacy deficits.

Acknowledgments
This research was conducted at Wichita State University and was supported by a dissertation grant from the Donald Hammill Foundation as well as student participation funding through a Wichita State University award for research and creative projects. We appreciate the insightful comments regarding study design provided by Anthony DiLollo, Barbara Hodson, Julie Masterson, Kathy Strattman, and the statistical expertise and consultation provided by Randy Ellsworth. We would also like to thank Benjamin Munson, Holly L. Storkel, and Michael S. Vitevitch and for their help and expertise in developing the stimuli for the present study.
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