Differentiating Children With and Without Language Impairment Based on Grammaticality Purpose This study compared the diagnostic accuracy of a general grammaticality measure (i.e., percentage grammatical utterance; PGU) to 2 less comprehensive measures of grammaticality—a measure that excluded utterances without a subject and/or main verb (i.e., percentage sentence point; PSP) and a measure that looked only at verb tense errors (i.e., ... Research Article
Research Article  |   January 01, 2013
Differentiating Children With and Without Language Impairment Based on Grammaticality
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Sarita L. Eisenberg
    Montclair State University, Montclair, NJ
  • Ling-Yu Guo
    University at Buffalo–The State University of New York, Buffalo
  • Correspondence to Sarita Eisenberg: eisenbergs@mail.montclair.edu
  • Editor: Marilyn Nippold
    Editor: Marilyn Nippold×
  • Associate Editor: Cheryl Scott
    Associate Editor: Cheryl Scott×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Research Articles
Research Article   |   January 01, 2013
Differentiating Children With and Without Language Impairment Based on Grammaticality
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, January 2013, Vol. 44, 20-31. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2012/11-0089)
History: Received October 12, 2011 , Revised March 19, 2012 , Accepted May 15, 2012
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, January 2013, Vol. 44, 20-31. doi:10.1044/0161-1461(2012/11-0089)
History: Received October 12, 2011; Revised March 19, 2012; Accepted May 15, 2012
Web of Science® Times Cited: 12

Purpose This study compared the diagnostic accuracy of a general grammaticality measure (i.e., percentage grammatical utterance; PGU) to 2 less comprehensive measures of grammaticality—a measure that excluded utterances without a subject and/or main verb (i.e., percentage sentence point; PSP) and a measure that looked only at verb tense errors (i.e., percentage verb tense usage; PVT)—in differentiating children with and without language impairment.

Method Two groups of 3-year-olds, 17 with language impairment and 17 with typical language, participated in a picture description task. PGU, PSP, and PVT were computed. Receiver operating characteristic curve analyses were conducted to determine the best cutoff value for each measure.

Results All 3 measures demonstrated a sensitivity of 100%. PGU showed a specificity of 88%, and both PSP and PVT showed a specificity of 82%. In addition, PGU showed a larger positive likelihood ratio than the other 2 measures.

Conclusion PGU, PSP, and PVT were all sensitive to language impairment. However, PGU was less likely than PSP and PVT to misclassify children with typical language. The resultant diagnostic accuracy makes PGU an appropriate measure to use to screen for language impairment.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This project was supported by Award Number R21DC009218 from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) to the first author. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of NIDCD or the National Institutes of Health. The authors are grateful to the children who participated in the study as well as to their parents who allowed them to participate and to the research assistants who collected and transcribed the samples. Portions of this study were presented at the 2011 Symposium for Research on Child Language Disorders in Madison, WI, and at the 2010 convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in Philadelphia, PA.
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