First Advisor

Rhea Paul

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Speech Communication


Speech Communication




Language acquisition -- Sex differences -- Longitudinal studies, Slow learning children -- Longitudinal studies



Physical Description

1 online resource (2, iv, 66 p.)


The contemporary research suggests that some children who present with early language delays as toddlers outgrow their delays while others continue to develop long-term language difficulties. Several studies over the years have focused on factors that might aid in predicting the outcome of late talkers. This current study emphasized exploring gender as a possible predictive factor. The purpose of this study was to determine if significant differences exist in the rate of growth in language skills, as indexed by scores on the Developmental Sentence Scoring (DSS) procedure (Lee, 1974) of boys versus girls who are late to start talking as toddlers. The research hypothesis was that boys who present as LT toddlers would score significantly higher than LT girls at each age level tested. The DSS is a norm-referenced instrument that assesses age-appropriate morphological development and syntax. The LT subjects used were part of the Portland Language Development Project, a longitudinal study. Spontaneous speech samples were collected, transcribed, and analyzed using the DSS procedure once each year from the time they were approximately 3 years of age, until the age of 7. Late talking children in this present study were grouped by gender. A Chi Square test was used to determine if the proportion of males scoring above the 10th percentile on the DSS was significantly different than the proportion of females scoring above the 10th percentile at each age. Results from this analysis indicated that at the age of 3 years, more boys than girls scored above the 10th percentile on the DSS. There were no significant differences found at the ages of 4, 5, 6, and 7. At-test was used to compare average DSS scores between the two genders for each year of the study. This test revealed a significant difference between the LT girls' and LT boys' scores at the age of 3 years. No significant differences were found for the subsequent years. However, difference between boys' and girls' scores at age 7 approached significance, with boys again scoring higher.


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