Effects of a Specialized Early Intervention for Children with Severe Language Impairment




Salazar, Vanessa Renee

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Children with language impairment experience difficulties in grammar, vocabulary, and phonological skills, and they are susceptible to developing learning disorders without intervention (Scarborough, 1990; Tallal, Ross,&Curtiss, 1989; Van der Lely&Stollwerk, 1996). Intervention is imperative to prevent further delays in language and potential emotional and social problems stemming from poor communication skills (Bruce&Hansson, 2008). Speech-language therapy is effective for these children (Law, Garrett,&Nye, 2003), and various interventions have been investigated with mixed results. Certain factors have been found to be associated with language outcome, including expressive language difficulties (Law, Garrett,&Nye, 2004), nonverbal cognitive ability (Bishop&Edmundson, 1987; Oliver, Dale,&Plomin, 2004), age (Schery, 1985), and initial type of impairment (Boyle, McCartney, Forbes,&O'Hare, 2007; Law et al., 2004). No empirical investigations have been published on the effects of the Montessori Method Applied to Children At-Risk for learning disabilities (Pickering, 1988) or the DuBard Association Method (DuBard&Martin, 2000), two central components of a specialized language intervention program at the Shelton School in Dallas, Texas. This program evaluation examines change in the language skills of 20 children ages 3 to 9 with language impairment during participation in this three-year intervention, the Shelton Early Intervention Language Learning Program. Variables associated with language outcomes are also examined. Using one-way repeated measures analyses of variance, significant improvement was found on measures of expressive language, expressive vocabulary, and articulation; significant decline was found on measures of receptive language and receptive vocabulary. No interaction effects were found between baseline nonverbal intelligence or age and language outcomes. Reliable change indices showed that a minimal proportion of participants improved, with the exception of the articulation measure, on which the majority of participants improved. A two-way contingency table analysis revealed that a relationship existed between baseline language impairment type and receptive language outcome, in which children who did not respond to intervention had a higher likelihood of having more pervasive language impairment at baseline than children who declined. Further research on the apparent differential response to expressive and articulation measures versus receptive measures is warranted

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