Sensitivity to Morphosyntactic Information in Preschool Children With and Without Developmental Language Disorder: A Follow-Up Study Purpose This study tested children's sensitivity to tense/agreement information in fronted auxiliaries during online comprehension of questions (e.g., Are the nice little dogs running?). Data from children with developmental language disorder (DLD) were compared to previously published data from typically developing (TD) children matched according to sentence comprehension test scores. ... Research Note
Research Note  |   December 10, 2018
Sensitivity to Morphosyntactic Information in Preschool Children With and Without Developmental Language Disorder: A Follow-Up Study
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Patricia Deevy
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Laurence B. Leonard
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Patricia Deevy: deevy@purdue.edu
  • Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond
    Editor-in-Chief: Sean Redmond×
  • Editor: Megan Dunn Davison
    Editor: Megan Dunn Davison×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Language / Research Notes
Research Note   |   December 10, 2018
Sensitivity to Morphosyntactic Information in Preschool Children With and Without Developmental Language Disorder: A Follow-Up Study
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2018, Vol. 61, 3064-3074. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-L-18-0038
History: Received January 30, 2018 , Revised April 18, 2018 , Accepted July 1, 2018
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2018, Vol. 61, 3064-3074. doi:10.1044/2018_JSLHR-L-18-0038
History: Received January 30, 2018; Revised April 18, 2018; Accepted July 1, 2018

Purpose This study tested children's sensitivity to tense/agreement information in fronted auxiliaries during online comprehension of questions (e.g., Are the nice little dogs running?). Data from children with developmental language disorder (DLD) were compared to previously published data from typically developing (TD) children matched according to sentence comprehension test scores.

Method Fifteen 5-year-old children with DLD and fifteen 3-year-old TD children participated in a looking-while-listening task. Children viewed pairs of pictures, 1 with a single agent and 1 with multiple agents, accompanied by a sentence with a fronted auxiliary (is + single agent or are + two agents) or a control sentence. Proportion looking to the target was measured.

Results Children with DLD did not show anticipatory looking based on the number information contained in the auxiliary (is or are) as the younger TD children had. Both groups showed significant increases in looking to the target upon hearing the subject noun (e.g., dogs).

Conclusions Despite the groups' similar sentence comprehension abilities and ability to accurately respond to the information provided by the subject noun, children with DLD did not show sensitivity to number information on the fronted auxiliary. This insensitivity is considered in light of these children's weaker command of tense/agreement forms in their speech. Specifically, we consider the possibility that failure to grasp the relation between the subject–verb sequence (e.g., dogs running) and preceding information (e.g., are) in questions in the input contributes to the protracted inconsistency in producing auxiliary forms in obligatory contexts by children with DLD.

Supplemental Material https://doi.org/10.23641/asha.7283459

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant R21 DC 13334 awarded to Laurence B. Leonard. The authors wish to thank Virginia Marchman for advice on design and analysis, the children and their families for their participation, and the members of the Child Language Lab for their valuable assistance in stimulus preparation and coding: Johanna Rudolph, Brianna Toppe, Erin Boyle, Sarah Barnes, Kelsey Delacroix, and Julia Bergmann.
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