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Chapter 11

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Craig Chambers

PSY315 CHAPTER 11 – LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT IN SPECIAL POPULATIONS - Language development in populations of children who are atypical in language development o Children who have conditions such as deafness, blindness, intellectual disability, or autism spectrum disorders  Affect their ability to acquire language - Difficulty acquiring language but appear to be normal in all other aspects of their development o These children referred to as having specific language impairment Why Study Special Populations? - Two goals motivate research on language development in populations other than typically developing children: o Helping children who are having difficulty with language acquisition, providing a scientific basis for designing programs to optimize their language skills o Addressing fundamental questions about how different human abilities contribute to the language acquisition process - Children who are deaf or blind have normal mental abilities, although their access to information is impaired - Looking at language development in children with intellectual disabilities provides insights into how language development is affected by other cognitive limitations - Looking at language development in children with autistic spectrum disorders, who have their own distinctive constellation of mental abilities and limitations, also sheds light on the extent to which the ability to acquire language depends on other human abilities - Children who seem to develop typically in every respect except in language challenge us to identify what aspect of human ability is necessary for language development but not for anything else Language Development in Deaf Children - pre-lingually deaf children: The characteristics of having become deaf prior to acquiring language o Born with a severe hearing loss or lose their ability to hear in infancy, before they’ve acquired language - Excluding cases in which hearing loss occurs after language has been acquired o In such cases, linguistic competence remains, although communication is impaired - Excluding children with mild-to-moderate hearing loss, who can hear spoken language with use of hearing aids and whose success at language development is predicted to a large degree by how much hearing ability remains - Effect of intermittent hearing loss on language development o Otitis media: Infection of the middle ear. This is frequently associated with fluid buildup in the middle ear (otitis media with effusion), resulting in temporary hearing impairment o Infants who experienced otitis media before age of 6 months have been found to be delayed in onset of canonical babbling and different from infants without such a medical history in quality of vowels they produced in their babbling o Findings suggest that when children experience even temporary hearing loss before 18 months, they are at substantially higher risk than other children for language delay during first three years o Other studies report small or non-significant effects of an early history of otitis media in language skills at 3 years of age o Other studies find that children who have no problems other than early intermittent hearing loss appear to catch up in language development by age 5 o Overall, evidence suggests that there are real effects on speech and language development of intermittent hearing loss that accompanies early otitis media but that the long-term impact is small o Inconsistent results - Children who cannot hear o Primary determinant of the course of language development is language environment to which they are exposed PSY315 CHAPTER 11 – LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT IN SPECIAL POPULATIONS  Exposure to sign language: A type of language, used primarily by the deaf, that makes use of manual gestures, facial expressions, and body posture. Sign languages are complete, complex languages that share many linguistic and neurological features with spoken languages  “Deaf of deaf” children (10%) • Exposed to sign language from infancy, so it is their first language  Deaf children who do not have deaf parent (90%) • Oralist method: An approach to language education for the deaf that focuses on the development of the ability to produce speech and read lips o Parent’s traditionally were discouraged from using any gestural communication system with their deaf children in the belief (which appears now to be mistaken) that using gestures or acquiring sign language would interfere with children’s acquiring a spoken language • Total communication: An approach to language education for the deaf in which oral language is combined with a signing or gestural system (replaced oralist method) • Oral language development: The development of spoken, as opposed to gestural or written, language o For deaf children who are not exposed to sign and who are trained in one of these methods • “Deaf of hearing” children who are orally educated o “Home sign” gestural system – children invent to communicate with those around them o Outcome when they learn sign language after infancy The Acquisition of Sign Language - Sign Languages are Real Languages o American Sign Language (ASL): The manual language used by the deaf in the United States and the English-speaking provinces of Canada. It is not a system of pantomime; rather, it shares the same structural features as other natural languages  ASL has lexicon • Lexical items in ASL are made up of finite and discrete number of sub-lexical components (ex. Hand shape and place of articulation) that are equivalent to phonemes in spoken languages • ASL has a grammar o ASL differs from spoken languages in that  ASL uses some iconic signs • Signs that physically resemble their referents  ASL uses pointing  But, many signs are completely arbitrary or have their iconic source so far back in history that they are of little present use  Iconic signs are conventionalized and therefore must be learned • Not any gesture that resembles a tree can serve as the sign for tree - The Course of Sign Language Development o Deaf children who have a deaf parent and exposed to sign language from birth  Course of sign language development is essentially same as course of development of spoken language • Infants exposed to ASL produce manual babbling, followed by single-sign productions, followed by multi-sign combinations, followed by morphological development and more complex syntax PSY315 CHAPTER 11 – LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT IN SPECIAL POPULATIONS  Similar processes underlie the acquisition of both sign and spoken languages • Children acquiring ASL make overregularization errors in their use of morphological markers • Children acquiring ASL persist in their errors and ignore parental corrections, even though parental corrections sometimes involve the parent’s actually molding the child’s hand shape • Also make pro-noun reversal errors at same age that children acquiring spoken language do – because signs for pronouns are points • Deaf children use pointing gestures to communicate before they acquire language (like hearing children) o Seems though acquiring a linguistic system is a separate enterprise from using pre-linguistic communicative gestures, even when the modality is the same  Pointing gives deaf children no advantage before acquiring sign language  Some deaf children learn sign from parents who are not themselves native signers • Although parents make errors typical of later learners of a language, their children do not • Children seem to have ability to extract the regularities even from errorful data • One study find that differences among mothers in their sign language proficiency were related to their children’s sign language skills o The Timing of Sign Language Development  Major milestones of producing the first word, achieving a 10-word vocabulary, and producing word combinations appear to be reached earlier by children acquiring sign language • Signs have the same lexical status as spoken words, ASL researchers use the term word  Hearing infants also seem able to learn to use gestures to communicate slightly earlier than they can use words • Advantage of manual modality is the basis of programs that teach manual gestures to pre-linguistic babies, thus enabling communication in children who would otherwise not be able to communicate  First ASL signs acquired by deaf children tend to be highly context bound – appearing in social routines or produced in imitation of an adult’s sign  When only truly referential uses of signs are counted, timing difference disappears • First referential signs in ASL learners and the first referential spoken words in children learning an oral language appear around 13 months o Early appearance of signs and words develop at the same time in deaf and hearing children  Slight advantage of manual modality does not allow symbol use before the pre-requisite cognitive developments have occurred Oral Development in Deaf Children - Cochlear implants o Provide deaf children with access to sound - For a profoundly deaf person to perceive spoken language, they must read lips, and the shape of lips is only a partial cue to the speech sound being produced o Most deaf children achieve only limited success in reading lips - Producing speech is difficult for pre-linguistically deaf children o Between 15-55% of orally educated deaf people achieve intelligible speech - Difficulty associated with pre-lingually deaf children having to acquire language through oral means PSY315 CHAPTER 11 – LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT IN SPECIAL POPULATIONS o Researchers argued that oralism and total communication programs fail to provide most deaf children with any effective native language - Communicative Development o Deaf children, like hearing children, develop the ability to engage in and to initiate episodes of joint attention in infancy and to communicate by means of gestures during first year of life o 18 months: hearing children use language in these episodes of joint engagement  This point is where the communicative development of deaf children who have hearing parents who do not sign diverges o Deaf children increase the amount they communicate with others through their pre-school years – do it at a slower rate than hearing children and more likely to use communication to direct others’ behaviour and less likely to make statements or ask questions than hearing children o Deaf children’s limited ability to acquire spoken language results in their being less communicative than their language-learning peers once those peers have begun to talk - Phonological Development o Deaf infants cry and coo and even begin to babble (True for deaf infants exposed to sign) o By babbling stage, deaf infants differ from hearing infants in both quantity and quality of sound production  Deaf infants do not produce canonical clear syllabic babbling typical of hearing 9- and 10-month olds o Some orally trained deaf children do seem to develop a phonological system o Orally trained deaf children may also show some phonological awareness  Phonological awareness is related to reading skill, and thus phonological awareness that orally trained deaf children achieve may help them learn to read o Level of literacy achieved by deaf children is low, and acquisition of literacy has remained persistent problem for deaf children across changes in intervention methods  Average reading level of deaf high school graduates is roughly fourth to sixth grade • Deaf children who perform at the highest level in reading are, those who have deaf parents and acquired sign from infancy  Evidence that deaf adults who had early exposure to sign language outperform deaf adults with no early language on written tests of English proficiency - Lexical Development o Oral vocabulary development in deaf children is delayed and proceeds more slowly than vocabulary development in hearing children  Also more variable o Among children who receive intervention, children who are identified as deaf at a younger age fare better than children identified later - Syntactic Development o Pre-lingually deaf children who are orally educated  Syntactic development is delayed, and endpoint of syntactic development typically falls far short of normal language competence o The syntactic abilities of hearing impaired 18 year olds fall below those of hearing 10 year olds o The particular type of syntactic errors made by deaf adolescents (educated with either oral or total communication methods) suggests that most deaf children do not fully acquire the grammar of the spoken language The Creation of Home Sign Systems by Deaf Children - Children referred to as linguistic isolates o Such children spontaneously invent gestural systems to communicate: home sign - Nicaraguan Sign Language o Complete with morphology and complex syntax o Requires a community of speakers Oral Language Development in Deaf Children with Cochlear Implants PSY315 CHAPTER 11 – LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT IN SPECIAL POPULATIONS - Cochlear implant: A device surgically implanted in the cochlea that allows a deaf individual to perceive sound by enabling sound to bypass damaged cells in the ear and directly stimulate the auditory nerve. Sound is picked up by an external microphone worn behind the ear, processed, and converted into electrical impulses, which are transmitted to an electrode array implanted in the cochlea o Cochlea: The part of the inner ear where sound can be surgically implanted inside the cochlea - General conclusion o Cochlear implants do allow hearing impaired children to acquire oral language better tan they would otherwise and that earlier implantation results in more successful outcomes than later implantation o On average, children with cochlear implants show lower levels of language skill than age- matched children with normal hearing - Some factors related to language outcomes in children with cochlear implants are quality of parent-child interaction, family SES, and level of residual hearing before surgery - “Deafness as culture” view o Agree that there are hardships associated with being Deaf, but they see these hardships as a result of being in a linguistic minority that is discriminated against, nor as an intrinsic feature of deafness  Proponents of this view object to both oralist (or total communication) methods of education and to cochlear implants because the goal of these approaches is to make the deaf like the hearing rather than to promote Deaf culture Implications of Research on Language Development in Deaf Children - Similarities between course of sign language development in deaf children exposed to sig from birth and spoken language development in hearing children suggest that the human capacity for language is not tied to the aural-oral channel o Language is a property of the human brain, not of the mouth and ears - Finding that children acquiring ASL make pronoun reversal errors, despite the similarity between the form of these pronouns and pre-linguistic communicative points, suggests that learning symbols as part of a linguistic system is its own enterprise rather than extension of pre-linguistic communicative system that precedes it Language Development in Children Who Are Blind - Blind children’s access to non-verbal communication and to non-verbal context of communication is limited to what can be perceived through senses other than vision - With blind children, achieving joint attention is more difficult because the usual routes of eye gaze and pointing are blocked o Phonological development is also affected by blindness  Blind children make more errors than sighted children in producing speech sounds that have highly visible articulatory movements, but they are not different from sighted children in their production of speech sounds produced by non-visible articulatory movements • Suggests that visual information contributes to phonological development in sighted children o Finding also consistent with evidence that deaf children can acquire some aspects of phonology on the basis of lip-reading - Vocabulary o Blind children reported to have fewer words for objects that can be seen but not touched, and more words for things associated with auditory change o Studies also indicate that blind children are less likely than sighted children to over-generalize their words o Blind children often fail to appropriately generalize words, using new words as names for specific referents rather than as names for categories – suggests that visually accessible information plays a role in learning the extensions of categories - Grammatical Development PSY315 CHAPTER 11 – LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT IN SPECIAL POPULATIONS o Delay in blind children’s acquisition of verbal auxiliaries – “helping verbs”  Suggested that cause for delay was in nature of mothers’ speech • Found that mothers of the blind children used more direct imperatives and fewer yes/no questions than did mothers talking to sighted children  Other studies of sighted children’s language development have found that high rates of imperatives and low rates of yes/no questions in mothers’ speech are associated with children’s slower acquisition of auxiliaries - Studies have reported that blind children show a greater use of social routines and unanalyzed, formulaic speech than sighted children do - Suggested that because blind children are more dependent than sighted children on speech as a means of social interaction, they are motivated to adopt a “pick it up and use it before you have time to analyze it” approach to language - Blindness also affects conversational interaction o Adults talking to blind children tend to initiate topics more than adults talking to sighted children do; and when blind children introduce topics, the topics tend to be self-oriented o Young blind children have difficulty understanding the conversations that go on around them, leading to frustration and sometimes to behavioural problems - Blind children who have no other handicapping condition babble, produce first words, produce word combinations, and acquire syntax and morphology on essentially the same timetable as do sighted children - Essential success of blind children’s language acquisition reveals that language acquisition cannot be simply a process of mapping sounds onto the things and actions to which they refer Language Development in Children with Intellectual Disabilities - Intellectual disability: A condition defined by impairments in cognitive functioning (typically defined as an IQ two or more standard deviations below the mean for the population), limitations in the ability to function independently and meet the demands of daily life, and an onset before the age of 18 years - Intellectual disability is almost always associated with significant language impairments Language Development in Children with Down Syndrome - Down syndrome: A chromosomal abnormality that causes moderate to severe mental retardation and typically affects language development o Language is more impaired than other cognitive functions  Grammar is particularly affected  Production deficits exceed comprehension deficits o The onset of canonical babbling appears to be delayed by about 2 months o Phonological development after infancy is substantially delayed o Most adults with Down syndrome have some difficulty producing intelligible speech - Lexical development starts late and proceeds slowly in children with DS o Produce their first word around 24 months o By the time they are 6 years, they are more than three years behind typically developing children in mental age  Productive language lags behind their mental age • Ex. A child with DS who is 6 years old and has a mental age of 3 years is likely to have a smaller productive vocabulary than an average 3 year old  Comprehension vocabulary is more on par with mental age • Children with DS produce communicative gestures more frequently than typically developing children - Grammatical development is the area of language most affected by DS o Cover the same course of grammatical development as typically developing children do  But children with DS may take 12 years to do what most children accomplish in 30 months PSY315 CHAPTER 11 – LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT IN SPECIAL POPULATIONS - Communicative development and pragmatic development appear to be of particular strengths of children with DS o 6 months: children with DS vocalize and engage in mutual eye contact more than typically developing infants o Have trouble achieving secondary intersubjectivity, which requires engagement with another person about some third entity o Very young children with DS are not good at interacting with a person and playing toys at the same time - Children with DS are particularly competent conversational partners o Compared with typically developing children of the same language level, they are better at maintaining a conversational topic over several turns and are better at repairing or revising their utterances when conversation breaks down - Adolescents with DS have difficulties using language for social interaction o Perform poorly in referential communication tasks, have difficulty with form-function mappings that need to be controlled in order to mark politeness appropriately, and have difficulty controlling reference in narrative production o Lexical and syntactic properties of narratives produced by individuals with DS are limited, reflecting their limited expressive language skills, but the plotline and other aspects of content of their narratives are more advanced – consistent with their mental age Language Development in Children with Williams Syndrome - Williams Syndrome: A chromosomal disorder that produces mild to moderate mental retardation. Individuals with Williams syndrome show severe visual-spatial deficits but relatively strong language skills o Below-average general intelligence and severely impaired visuospatial skills, but they are relatively strong in short-term verbal memory and language o Speak in long, grammatically complex sentences, use a rich vocabulary, and can tell coherent and complex stories - Dissociability: (of language and cognition) The independence of one function from the other, which would imply that each function relies on a separate underlying mental capacity - Adolescents with Williams syndrome tell coherent and complex stories with great emotional expression - In children with WS, lexical development precedes the cognitive developments that it usually accompanies o Children with WS learn words before they use pointing gestures to refer, and they experience a word spurt before they categorize objects - Children and adults with WS score in the normal range on standardized vocabulary tests, despite scoring in the intellectually disabled range on IQ tests - WS individuals show clear deficits on standardized tests of morphosyntactic knowledge - Competent as conversational partners o From infancy, children with WS demonstrate an extreme sociability o Individuals with WS often cannot answer questions about t
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