Young Children With Specific Language Impairment and Their Numerical Cognition

Arvedson, Paula J.
October 2002
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Oct2002, Vol. 45 Issue 5, p970
Academic Journal
This study examined the enumeration and numerical reasoning levels of children with specific language impairment (SLI) compared to those of two groups of typically developing children: children matched for age (AM) and children matched for grammatical ability (GM). The children completed four numerical tasks: reproduction of sets, numerosity of sets, an addition/subtraction condition of the numerosity of sets, and transformation effects (conservation of number). Between-group analyses indicate that the children in the SLI group performed better than the children in the GM group for all set sizes of all tasks with one exception (set size 7 of the add/subtract task) and performed more poorly than the children in the AM group for 7 of the 16 trials. There was a strong correlation of count range with the reproduction of sets task for the children with SLI, but not for the children in the other two groups. The AM group consistently used verbal counting to facilitate numerical problem solving. Conversely prompting the children with SLI to use verbal counting while completing any of the numerical tasks resulted in a 50% decline in accuracy. Children need opportunities to strengthen numerical constructs, such as those enhanced through verbal counting. However, children with SLI also need opportunities to fortify their nonverbal enumeration and numerical reasoning without requiring the use of their deficit area.


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