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Etiologies of specific language impairment
Graves, Tracey A

2003, Doctor of Philosophy, Ohio State University, Speech and Hearing Science.
Language acquisition is the primary area of concern as the child grows and develops. For some children, language development is difficult, even in the absence of any clear sensory or cognitive disorder. Such children begin to talk and understand spoken language later than other children. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) uses the term developmental language disorder to label this condition, but among speech-language clinicians and researchers, the most frequently used term is specific language impairment (SLI). SLI has been actively studied for more than 40 years. The condition appears in young children and is known to persist into adulthood. Although the causes are unknown, current research focuses on possible inherited tendencies. Along with these genetic traits, identification of environmental factors within the child’s home environment is of increasing concern. Thus, this study examined those environmental factors commonly observed within the home environments of children from 3 to 6 years of age who have been identified as having SLI. All participants were required to meet specific expressive and receptive language, nonverbal intelligence, articulation, and hearing criteria (Rice, et al., 1995) to be considered for this study. This criteria is based on the most universally accepted diagnostic standard for SLI identification. A questionnaire was administered to seventy-seven parents/caregivers of children whom qualified for participation. The questionnaire contained questions from six subgroups including intrauterine factors, parental cognitive abilities, presence of siblings within the home, socioeconomic status, mother-child interaction, and nutritional factors. The results of this study indicated that there are observed environmental factors common to children with SLI. Of the six hypothesized groups, the strongest predictors of SLI parental cognitive abilities (biological mother’s education level) and nutritional factors. Various types of language interaction, such as increased socialization with friends, and number of siblings also appear to be environmental factors that are present among these subjects.
Robert Rox (Advisor)
122 p.

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