Provide a 2 pages analysis while answering the following question: Specific Language Impairment. Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the APA Style Guide. An abstract is required. SPECIFIC LANGUAGE IMPAIRMENT All parents look forward to when their children begin talking. Once the infant’s babble has been replaced by language, the child’s vocabulary and grasp of grammar develop in a clear sequence. Further language skills are gained as the child begins to learn how to read. Problems in any part of this development can have repercussions during school years and into adulthood. Disorders of spoken language can involve a range of problems such as very slow language development and poor understanding of long and complex sentences – these can affect up to 7 per cent of children in early school years (Leonard, 2004).

In some cases, they are due to a physical problem such as hearing loss. in others the delay is short and children catch up quickly with their peers. But about 4 per cent of children have a specific impairment that has no physical cause but requires clinical attention (Watkins, 1994). These language impairments take several different forms. Some children have problems with making the correct sounds, others with classifying speech sounds (not recognizing that ‘pat’ and ‘potato’ begin with the same sound, for example) or get sounds in the wrong sequence. Grammar can also pose problems: some children aged six or seven talk in a babyish way, using short, ungrammatical sentences such as “yesterday I go to school” (Watkins, 1994).

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Provide a 2 pages analysis while answering the following question: Specific Language Impairment. Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the APA Style Guide. An abstract is requir
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Professor Dorothy Bishop, a Welcome Trust Principal Research Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology, has been investigating this complex group of deficits and their many associated risk factors and syndromes (Leonard, 2004). Using a wide range of techniques – including experimental psychology, electrophysiology, genetics and language assessment – she is working to characterize the disorders and understand their origins. Professor Bishop has found that most children with specific language impairment have several underlying problems. The picture emerging is that there are multiple risk factors for specific language impairment that do not cause problems if they occur alone, but in combination with other deficits they do (Watkins, 1994).

For example, electrophysiological studies have found that some children show unusually rapid decay of memory for incoming sounds. This is also found in the parents, even if they have no language difficulties themselves. Impairment results when this poor short-term memory is combined with other traits such as poor discrimination of word sounds (Watkins, 1994). In studies on twins and the parents of children with specific language impairment, Professor Bishop has shown that some aspects of the disorder – such as impaired short-term memory for speech sounds – are heritable. In order to identify the genes that contribute, there must be accurate ways of selecting groups of children to study. Using behavioral genetics Professor Bishop has identified markers of family risk for specific language impairment such as the inability to repeat nonsense words (Watkins, 1994).

These markers appear to have distinct genetic origins and can be used to select groups of

Children for targeted gene studies (Leonard, 2004). Language problems are also seen as part of broader syndromes such as autism, cerebral palsy and Down’s syndrome. Professor Bishop has found it informative to compare the types of language difficulty seen in different conditions. She has, for example, found that children with Down’s syndrome and children with specific language impairment share some communication deficits. She has also found differences in the brain responses to speech of children with Down’s syndrome that could underlie some of their language deficits (Leonard, 2004).


Watkins, R. V. (1994). Specific language impairments in children. P.H. Brookes Pub. : United States.

Leonard, L. B. (2000). Children with Specific Language Impairment. MIT Press: United States.

Hulme, C. Snowling, M. J. (2009). Developmental Disorders of Language Learning and Cognition. John Wiley & Sons: New York City.

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