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Non-word repetition in adolescents with Specific Language Impairment and Autism plus Language Impairments: a qualitative analysis

By N.G. Riches, Tom Loucas, G. Baird, T. Charman and E. Simonoff

Abstract

Non-word repetition (NWR) was investigated in adolescents with typical development, Specific Language Impairment (SLI) and Autism Plus language Impairment (ALI) (n = 17, 13, 16, and mean age 14;4, 15;4, 14;8 respectively). The study evaluated the hypothesis that poor NWR performance in both groups indicates an overlapping language phenotype (Kjelgaard & Tager-Flusberg, 2001). Performance was investigated both quantitatively, e.g. overall error rates, and qualitatively, e.g. effect of length on repetition, proportion of errors affecting phonological structure, and proportion of consonant substitutions involving manner changes. Findings were consistent with previous research (Whitehouse, Barry, & Bishop, 2008) demonstrating a greater effect of length in the SLI group than the ALI group, which may be due to greater short-term memory limitations. In addition, an automated count of phoneme errors identified poorer performance in the SLI group than the ALI group. These findings indicate differences in the language profiles of individuals with SLI and ALI, but do not rule out a partial overlap. Errors affecting phonological structure were relatively frequent, accounting for around 40% of phonemic errors, but less frequent than straight Consonant-for-Consonant or vowel-for-vowel substitutions. It is proposed that these two different types of errors may reflect separate contributory mechanisms. Around 50% of consonant substitutions in the clinical groups involved manner changes, suggesting poor auditory-perceptual encoding. From a clinical perspective algorithms which automatically count phoneme errors may enhance sensitivity of NWR as a diagnostic marker of language impairment.\ud \ud Learning outcomes: Readers will be able to (1) describe and evaluate the hypothesis that there is a phenotypic overlap between SLI and Autism Spectrum Disorders (2) describe differences in the NWR performance of adolescents with SLI and ALI, and discuss whether these differences support or refute the phenotypic overlap hypothesis, and (3) understand how computational algorithms such as the Levenshtein Distance may be used to analyse NWR data.\ud \ud \ud \u

Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2011
OAI identifier: oai:centaur.reading.ac.uk:17902
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