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International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology

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Language disorders in children, Child development deviations, Children with disabilities -- Services for, Specific language impairment in children, Speech perception


Purpose: To investigate links between sound discrimination and explicit sound-meaning mapping by preschoolers with and without developmental language disorder (DLD).

Method: We tested 26 children with DLD and 26 age- and gender-matched peers with typical language development (TLD). Inclusion was determined via results of standardised assessments of language and cognitive skills and a hearing screening. Children completed two computerised tasks designed to assess pitch and duration discrimination and explicit mapping of pitch- and duration-contrasting sounds to objects.

Result: Children with TLD more successfully mapped pitch categories to meanings than children with DLD. Children with TLD also showed significantly better overall sound discrimination than children with DLD. Sound-discrimination scores were marginally associated with overall sound-meaning mapping in multivariate analyses of covariance (MANCOVAs). Correlation tests indicated significant associations between discrimination and mapping, with moderate to large effect sizes. Thus, significant sound-discrimination differences between the groups may contribute to differences in sound-meaning-mapping accuracy.

Conclusion: Children with DLD had more difficulty mapping sound categories to meanings than TLD peers. We discuss possible explanations for this finding and implications for theoretical accounts of the aetiology of DLD.


Copyright © 2020 Informa UK Limited


This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, DOI: 10.1080/17549507.2020.1750701.



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