Sustained Selective Attention Skills of Preschool Children With Specific Language Impairment: Evidence for Separate Attentional Capacities

Spaulding, Tammie J.; Plante, Elena; Vance, Rebecca
February 2008
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Feb2008, Vol. 51 Issue 1, p16
Academic Journal
Purpose: The present study was designed to investigate the performance of preschool children with specific language impairment (SLI) and their typically developing (TD) peers on sustained selective attention tasks. Method: This study included 23 children diagnosed with SLI and 23 TD children matched for age, gender, and maternal education level. The children's sustained selective attention skills were assessed with different types of stimuli (visual, nonverbal-auditory, linguistic) under 2 attentional load conditions (high, low) using computerized tasks. A mixed design was used to compare children across groups and performance across tasks. Results: The SLI participants exhibited poorer performance than their peers on the sustained selective attention tasks presented in the auditory modality (linguistic and nonverbal-auditory) under the high attentional load conditions. Performance was comparable with their peers under the low attentional load conditions. The SLI group exhibited similar performance to their peers on the visual tasks regardless of attentional load. Conclusion: These results support the notion of attention difficulties in preschool children with SLI and suggest separate attentional capacities for different stimulus modalities.


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