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Specific Language Impairment and Dyslexia

Chlo Marshall
Department of Language and Communication Science, City University London
Keynote talk at the Dyslexia Action Summer Conference, 30th June 2011

Dyslexia
Significant difficulties in learning to read and spell, despite:

Specific Language Impairment (SLI)


Significant difficulties in acquiring expressive language and language comprehension, despite: Adequate exposure to language Normal sensory abilities Average or above average nonverbal IQ No additional developmental disorder that could explain language difficulties

Adequate exposure to literacy Normal sensory abilities Average or above average nonverbal IQ No additional developmental disorder that could explain literacy difficulties

Characteristics of SLI
(example from boy aged 8)

SLT: CHILD: SLT: CHILD: SLT: CHILD: SLT: CHILD: SLT: CHILD:

What does your brother Ryan like to eat? Pot noodle and chips And what about you? And hes like crisps He likes crisps, what about you? I just like icecream, not pot noodle. You dont like pot noodle? I think its disgusting. I agree with you! Make me sick. Started to hurting.
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Characteristics of SLI
(same child as before)

CHILD:

SLT: CHILD: SLT: CHILD: SLT: CHILD: SLT: CHILD:

And the girl was thinking to eat the chocolate, making a mess. Suddenly the girl was filled with a mess! And the lady was bit surprise! And who is that lady? The mum! The lady clean him on his face. On her face. Its a girl, isnt it? The girl. So she cleaned her on her face, thats right. What will she do with the clothes? Make him dirty. Well, the girls made them dirty so what will mummy do with the clothes? Take them to the wash! 4

Some characteristics of SLI


Errors in:
Syntax Morphology Vocabulary Phonology

Also found in signed languages Affects around 7% of preschool children Can persist into adolescence/ adulthood Has a genetic component
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Overlap between dyslexia and SLI


McArthur et al (2000):  102 children: SLI (aged 6-9)  110 children: dyslexia (aged 7-14)

SLI 50 113 49

Dyslexia

Understanding the overlap


Challenges:
identified at different ages, by different professionals

Perhaps SLI turns into dyslexia? Many preschool children diagnosed with SLI go on to have dyslexia.

Bishop and Snowlings additional deficit model (2004)


language

dyslexia

normal phonology

SLI poor comprehenders

Bishop & Snowlings model in a different format


Phon. processing deficit Dyslexia Word reading problems

Language deficits

SLI

Oral language difficulties

Problems: Not all children with SLI have dyslexia. Not all children with SLI have phonological deficits of the type found in dyslexia
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Profile of a child with SLI, but not dyslexia


Boy, aged 12;11 single word reading Literacy: WORD spelling comprehension rhyme Phonology: PhAB spoonerisms rapid naming - digits non-word reading word comprehension sentence repetition test of word-finding Standard score 103 100 72 (-1.87) 95 98 94 100 75 (-1.67) 65 (-2.33) 83 (-1.15)
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sentence comprehension 88 Language

Additional difficulties: Passive sentences

The man is eaten by the fish (scored 7/12; actives, 12/12)

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Additional difficulties: Verb inflection

Buzz is stirring his tea.  Everyday Buzz stirs his tea.  Yesterday Buzz stirred his tea.

Agreement: 16/20 Past tense: 12/20

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Study to investigate language, literacy and phonology in SLI and dyslexia


Funded by ESRC, 2004-2008, at UCL. Groups of children 8-12 years-old:
SLI+dyslexia SLI-only Dyslexia-only

Investigating phonological deficits and links to language deficits.

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Comparing children with SLI+dyslexia, SLI-only and dyslexia-only


0.5 0

-0.5 z-score

-1

SLI + dyslexia SLI only yslexia only

-1 5

-2

-2 5

TROG

BPVS

CELF-rs

TWF

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Comparing children with SLI+dyslexia, SLI-only and dyslexia-only


0 -0.5

-1 -score

-1.5

SLI + dyslexia SLI only yslexia only

- .5

-3

WOR read

WOR PhAB WOR spell comprehension nw read

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Phonological impairments in SLI and dyslexia


SLI+Dyslexia SLI-only Dyslexiaonly Age-matched controls

Speech perception (log) Non-word discrimination (%) Non-word repetition (%) Digit span (raw)

0.17 73 51 9

0.20 80 68 10

0.30 78 78 11

0.57 90 96 16
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How do phonological impairments contribute to language impairments?

Verb morphology: phonological variables account for:


49.7% variance, highly significant

Passive sentence comprehension: phonological


variables account for: 11.3%, significantly less than for verb morphology

Contribution of phonology depends on particular grammatical construction. Not all phonology!

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Summary
Many children with dyslexia have SLI, but not all. Many preschool children diagnosed with SLI go on to have dyslexia. Children with SLI may, however, have adequate single word reading skills, BUT have difficulties with reading comprehension. Children with both SLI+dyslexia often score particularly poorly on language and literacy assessments. Poor phonology underlies some of the language impairment in SLI, but is not the whole story.
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Find out more about SLI (SLCN)


I CAN: http://www.ican.org.uk/ Afasic: http://www.afasicengland.org.uk/ National year of communication Hello campaign
http://www.thecommunicationtrust.org.uk/hello.aspx
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