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Identifying specific language impairment in deaf children acquiring British Sign Language: implications for theory and practice

Mason, Kathryn; Rowley, Katherine; Atkinson, Joanna; Herman, Rosalind; Woll, Bencie; Morgan, Gary; Marshall, Chloe; (2010) Identifying specific language impairment in deaf children acquiring British Sign Language: implications for theory and practice. British Journal of Developmental Psychology , 28 (1) pp. 33-50. 10.1348/026151009X484190. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper presents the first ever group study of specific language impairment (SLI) in users of sign language. A group of 50 children were referred to the study by teachers and speech and language therapists. Individuals who fitted pre-determined criteria for SLI were then systematically assessed. Here, we describe in detail the performance of 13 signing deaf children aged 5-14 years on normed tests of British Sign Language (BSL) sentence comprehension, repetition of nonsense signs, expressive grammar and narrative skills, alongside tests of non-verbal intelligence and fine motor control. Results show these children to have a significant language delay compared to their peers matched for age and language experience. This impaired development cannot be explained by poor exposure to BSL, or by lower general cognitive, social, or motor abilities. As is the case for SLI in spoken languages, we find heterogeneity within the group in terms of which aspects of language are affected and the severity of the impairment. We discuss the implications of the existence of language impairments in a sign language for theories of SLI and clinical practice.

Type: Article
Title: Identifying specific language impairment in deaf children acquiring British Sign Language: implications for theory and practice
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1348/026151009X484190
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1348/026151009X484190
Language: English
Additional information: The first investigation in any signed language of Specific Language Impairment in deaf children, which has important implications for our understanding of the cognitive underpinnings of SLI, but also for the identification of children with signing difficulties, who have hitherto been largely unnoticed in the classroom. This paper is the first in a series on this group of children. I presented the study in an invited keynote presentation at the Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition conference in September 2011.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Psychology and Human Development
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Linguistics
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Structural and Molecular Biology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1559269

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