A Closer Look at Explanation in the Study of Specific Language Impairment The Author’s Reply to the Commentaries Clinical Forum
Clinical Forum  |   April 01, 1991
A Closer Look at Explanation in the Study of Specific Language Impairment
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Laurence B. Leonard, Ph.D.
    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
  • Requests for reprints may be sent to Laurence B. Leonard, Ph.D., Department of Audiology and Speech Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907.
Article Information
Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Clinical Forum: Specific Language Impairment as a Clinical Category
Clinical Forum   |   April 01, 1991
A Closer Look at Explanation in the Study of Specific Language Impairment
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, April 1991, Vol. 22, 88. doi:10.1044/0161-1461.2202.88
History: Received July 30, 1990 , Accepted August 16, 1990
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, April 1991, Vol. 22, 88. doi:10.1044/0161-1461.2202.88
History: Received July 30, 1990; Accepted August 16, 1990
I appreciate having the opportunity to respond to my colleagues’ insightful comments. Although a number of valuable points were raised, I shall confine my reply to those that seem to have a direct bearing on the interpretation of my original statements.
It is clear that each of my colleagues has a good understanding of my main point, that many specifically language-impaired children’s language limitations are not due, in Johnston’s words, to “external agents, trauma, or pathological malfunction.” Their reviews of this basic position were not only fair, but informative as well. However, I believe that some of the commentators overreached in interpreting my statement “research on discovering a cause for specific language impairment could very well come up empty.” By this I meant simply that for many of these children there may not be a pathology or injurious external force to be found. This is not, as some of the comments implied, the same thing as saying that we need not try to explain the language behavior of these children. A major goal of normal child language research is to explain the language development process, so it would be strange indeed for us to be relieved of this responsibility when children with slow and inefficient language learning are concerned.
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