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Auteur: Mabel RICE

Linguistic Growth Patterns of Children with Specific Language Impairment: Implications for Etiological Mechanisms

Abstract/Résumé: Children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) show language impairments with no apparent cause. The diagnosis is defined by inclusionary and exclusionary criteria. Children are included if they show language impairment relative to age norms; children are excluded if they show hearing impairment, nonverbal cognitive impairments, or neurodevelopmental disabilities such as epilepsy or autism. SLI is known to be inherited, based on familial and twin studies as well as promising genetic investigations. Most children with SLI show language impairment across multiple dimensions of language. At the same time, certain areas of morphosyntax are especially vulnerable and serve as reliable clinical markers. The behavioral symptoms of SLI are a mixed picture of delayed onset of multiple language dimensions combined with selective impairment of some features of the grammar. Key questions are what accounts for the apparently selective weakness in language acquisition in otherwise healthy children, and what accounts for the selective weakness in some properties of language relative to others? New perspectives on possible answers to these questions arise from a program of longitudinal investigation of children with SLI, with documentation of how the linguistic system grows over the age range of 2 to 20 years. The findings reveal surprising parallels to unaffected control children, as well as clear documentation of persistent, long term deficiencies in the grammar. This presentation will summarize the outcomes and lay out the implications for etiological mechanisms, with an emphasis on possible genetic influences