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Children with Language Disorders:

Natural History and Academic Success

Anthony S. Bashir and Annebelle Scavuzzo

Children with developmental language disorders pose specific and unique problems for educators. need to acquire language, to learn with
This article addresses the continuing academic vulnerability of these children during the school language, and to apply accrued knowl-
years. We advance the position that their academic vulnerability results from the lifelong need edge of language to learning tasks,
to acquire language, to learn with language, and to apply language knowledge for academic such as reading and writing.
learning and social development. Issues are addressed that relate to persistence of language In order to understand why many
deficits and learning in school.
children with language disorders have
academic problems, it is important to
understand the functions that lan-

anguage disorders are associ- ation among language disorders, lan- guage serves in the educational pro-
ated with a diverse group of guage knowledge, and dyslexia (Catts, cess. Following a summary of these
developmental and medical 1989b; Scarborough, 1990). functions, issues related to the natural
conditions, including hearing impair- Because language comprehension, history of children with language dis-
ment, mental retardation, autism, and production, and use are fundamental orders will be presented. We will also
acquired or developmental language to social and academic success, chil- address how knowledge of this history
disorders. While a consideration of dren with language disorders are at assists educators in understanding the
the language behaviors associated risk for problems in social adaptation needs of children with language dis-
with each of these conditions is impor- and learning in school (Bashir, Wiig, orders.
tant, this article will focus on children & Abrams, 1987). Although extensive
with specific developmental, nonac- clinical descriptions of children with
quired language disorders. A number language disorders have been available
of terms are used to designate these for more than 35 years (Berry, 1969; Some Functions of Language
children and/or their disorder, in- Eisenson, 1972; Johnson and Mykle- in Education
cluding "childhood or developmental bust, 1967; Myklebust, 1954), few
aphasia" (Eisenson, 1972; Proceed- studies allow for an accurate determi- Children with language disorders
ings, 1962), "children with language nation of prevalence. In a review of pose specific and unique problems for
disorders" (Berry, 1969), and "specific these studies, Lahey (1988) noted that educators. Those problems occur be-
language impairment" (Lahey, 1988). variability in reported prevalence cause language is "both curriculum
The term "children with language dis- figures is due to the use of different content and learning environment. . .
orders" will be used in this article. criteria for diagnosis of language dis- and a medium through which other
Language disorders are included in orders. The prevalence of language knowledge is acquired" (Cazden,
the definition of learning disabilities disorders in the studies she reviewed 1973, p. 135). A student's language
written by the National Advisory ranged from 3% to 12%. knowledge and his or her ability to
Committee on Handicapped Children This article will address issues re- apply that knowledge are, thus, funda-
(1968); this definition of learning dis- lated to the continuous academic vul- mental to learning in school. The
abilities was incorporated into P.L. nerability of children with language planning and design of educational
94-142. Within this definition, two of disorders during the school years. The curricula assumes the presence of basic
the conditions that constitute a learn- majority of these children are identified language abilities and processes. For
ing disability are dyslexia and devel- during the preschool years and expe- example, it is assumed that with
opmental aphasia. The association of rience problems in both the acquisition appropriate instruction students can
language disorders with learning dis- and development of speech and lan- access and apply their knowledge
abilities is well established (Denckla, guage. Herein, we advance the posi- about language to such tasks as learn-
1977; Mattis, French, & Rapin, 1975). tion that the academic vulnerability of ing to read and write, understanding
Recent studies suggest a close associ- these children results from the lifelong a lecture, learning content material,


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and demonstrating learning by re- has shown that the storytelling of model is useful because it describes
sponding verbally to questions and African American children has a differ- classroom language functions and re-
other inquiries, both in class and on ent narrative form and process than is quirements within each of the compo-
examinations. expected within the school setting. The nents. For example, the language of
Some of the academic problems en- differences between the child's lan- concepts and content is concerned
countered by children with language guage use and the teacher's language with how language represents mean-
disorders are best understood by con- expectations have important implica- ings and information within a partic-
sidering the language aspect of the tions for the kinds of responses that ular area of study (e.g., social studies,
educational process. All too often, such teachers make to children. These dif- science, literature). Vocabulary, sen-
a consideration is restricted to "lan- ferences also influence the ways in tence structures, and different text
guage arts." However, language which teachers view a child and value structures will vary as a function of
serves essential functions throughout his or her contributions (Delpit, 1986; how a particular subject organizes
life, and especially during the school Michaels, 1985). information and concepts.
years. These language functions Finally, having language affords the Student language, on the other
include the propositional, the social, child the opportunity to express atti- hand, is concerned with the elements
and the expressive (Cazden, 1988). tudes, beliefs, feelings, and values. of comprehension, production, and
First, propositional aspects of lan- Through the acquisition and use of lan- use of language within the classroom
guage are concerned with the ways in guage, the child is able to develop a setting. The concern focuses on the
which language is used to represent sense of personal identity and the student's language status. Other
and analyze knowledge and informa- capacity for self-advocacy. Language aspects of student language address
tion. During the school years this will provide the child with an adaptive what the student knows about lan-
relates to how content area information way to self-regulate behavior. For guage and the ways in which the stu-
is organized, discussed, and presented some children with language disor- dent can apply that knowledge for
in lectures, texts, and experiments. In ders, the social and personal aspects of communication and learning. Finally,
many ways, the learning of a given life can be particularly difficult. As the teacher must have knowledge
subject (e.g., biology) is the learning research findings indicate, the psycho- about the student's language, as well
of its specific language. The student social implications of language dis- as a knowledge of how to use language
learns the content by using prior orders range from psychiatric illness to for instruction. This includes aware-
knowledge to help disclose the organi- problems in social interaction (Hazel & ness of such factors as grammatical
zation of the content and understand Schumaker, 1988; Prizant et al., 1990). complexity, organization of oral pre-
the text structure (Calfee & Chambliss, sentations, use of language for struc-
1988). The student's learning will de- turing a lesson, and approaches to
pend, in part, on effective, efficient Language and the Classroom dialogue regulation with a student or
processing of the text and lecture, as group of students. The teacher will
well as the learning of specialized lan- Different aspects of language are want to know how language is used
guage found within a specific unit integrated within the classroom setting within a particular content area.
(e.g., a unit on the solar system, ver- and serve varying functions (Cazden, The efficacious use of language for
tebrates, or environmental concerns) 1988; Silliman, 1984; Silliman & Wil- instructional purposes and the sensi-
(Just & Carpenter, 1987; Vacca & kinson, 1991). These functions include, tivity of the teacher to the student's
Vacca, 1986). among others, the use of language for language are exemplified in the work
Second, language facilitates social re- structuring a lesson, delivering a of Palincsar and Brown (1984) and
lations and cultural membership. The lecture, organizing information, con- Moffett (1981). Each of these writers,
learning of language during the school structing knowledge, managing and mindful of the desired outcome, uses
years serves to establish membership clarifying information, developing and language to model, assist, clarify and
within different social communities, directing inquiry, and using conversa- develop expression, establish and
including the school environments and tion with teachers and peers to facili- direct a lesson, provide feedback about
extended cultural settings (Gee, 1990). tate learning (Bloome & Knott, 1985; the progress of the student, and rein-
Within these different social and cul- Bloome & Theodoron, 1985; Cazden, force a desired outcome. In each
tural settings, the child learns how to 1988; Palincsar, 1986b). instance, a dialogue is established
use language to speak about events, as Gruenewald and Pollak (1990) used between the student and the teacher
well as how to participate in various an interactive model to describe class- that serves as the primary means for
social practices and interactions. This room communication. The three com- facilitating the student's learning. It is
culture-specific learning of language ponents of the model include student in this dialogue that language is used
occurs in a variety of language forms, language, teacher language, and lan- to construct knowledge (Bloome &
such as storytelling. Michaels (1985) guage of concepts and content. This Knott, 1985; Palincsar, 1986b).

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Academic Outcomes for school years, including learning to dered and 18 speech-impaired children
Preschool Children with read. at 13 to 20 years of age, 50% of the chil-
Language Disorders dren with language disorders had per-
sistent language problems, while only
Concerns for the consequences of
The Persistence of 5.6% of the children with speech
early childhood language disorders
Language Disorders impairment had persistent speech
were first expressed in the 19th century An assessment of communicative problems. Persistence of language dis-
(Weiner, 1985), yet systematic follow- behavior is basic to the diagnosis of orders beyond the preschool years is
up studies did not begin until the mid language disorders in children. Recent reported in 50% to 88% of children
1970s (deAjuriaguerra et al., 1976). work suggests that the goals of identi- (Aram et al., 1984; Garvey & Gordon,
Since then, a number of studies have fication must be separated clearly from 1973; Hall & Tomblin, 1978; King,
evaluated academic outcomes for pre- the goals of assessment. Lahey (1990) Jones, & Lasky, 1982; Strominger,
school children with language dis- argued that the identification of chil- 1983).
orders. The studies differ in the dren with language disorders is best Summarizing their longitudinal data
methods used; some follow a group of achieved by focusing on performance on the lexical, syntactic, and semantic
children from preschool into the school rather than by making inferences about development in four children with ex-
years (e.g., Rissman, Curtiss, & Tallal, the language knowledge that underlies pressive language problems (identified
1990; Scarborough & Dobrich, 1990; the child's performance. This focus on at 2 years, 6 months), Scarborough and
Tallal, 1988), while others use a follow- performance is fundamental to the diag- Dobrich (1990) noted that "over the
up format and assess the child's lan- nosis of language disorders in children preschool period these children un-
guage and academic performance at a and has resulted in various systems for derwent concurrent developmental
later age (e.g., Aram, Ekelman, & the determination of language disorders changes in the severity and breadth of
Nation, 1984; Aram & Nation, 1980; (Lahey, 1988; Wiig & Semel, 1984). their productive language impair-
Catts, in press; Garvey & Gordon, Usually, follow-up and longitudinal ments" (p. 80). As the children de-
1973; Hall & Tomblin, 1978; Stromin- studies use a group of children identi- veloped from 2 years, 6 months, to 5
ger & Bashir, 1977; Wolpaw, Nation, fied in the preschool years as speech years, there were noted differences
& Aram, 1976). Direct comparison of and/or language impaired. As noted with respect to selectivity of the lan-
study results is difficult, because vari- previously, these studies use various guage deficit and pattern of language
ous criteria are used for subject inclu- criteria for determining a language dis- problems. The progression was from
sion. In addition, there are different order and, as a result, comparability the broad to the specific aspects of lan-
descriptions of subjects provided; among subjects is difficult to achieve. guage. These findings are consistent
there is little uniformity in the mea- However, the results of these and with findings about changing patterns
surements used to determine current other studies (e.g., Johnston, 1982) of language behavior with increasing
status; there are different lengths of suggest the following: (a) Children age (Aram & Nation, 1975). In sum-
time between diagnosis and follow- with language disorders do show mary, there is persistence of language
up; and different designs are used changes in the type and severity of differences observed as children with
(i.e., prospective and retrospective). their language problems over time; language disorders develop, with
There are reviews that summarize (b) the order of acquisition of language severity, specificity, and patterns of
the research on preschool children forms mirrors that of nonaffected chil- language differences varying across
with language disorders and their aca- dren, but the acquisition of language age and from child to child.
demic performance (Aram & Hall, occurs more slowly and over an ex- The persistence of language differ-
1989; Bashir et al., 1987; Maxwell & tended age span; (c) language prob- ences and a slower rate of language
Wallach, 1984; Tallal, 1988; Weiner, lems persist for many of these children acquisition continue into the early
1985). throughout childhood as well as ado- school grades. These occur across the
The following issues related to nat- lescence and young adult life; and same developmental time span when
ural history and continued academic (d) additional language problems may children are required to learn to read
vulnerability of children with language not be apparent until the middle school and write. As a consequence of the
disorders will be discussed: persistence years, when the child is required to amount of time needed for mastery of
of language disorders; other domains understand or produce complex lan- certain language forms, the child with
of development that are concomitantly guage, develop narratives, understand a language disorder continues to need
affected in children with language dis- or create expository texts, or use lan- additional time to acquire aspects of
orders; preschool children with lan- guage for higher order tasks, such as language, often after peers have ac-
guage disorders and the notion of argument and interpretation. complished the same task. However,
developmental "catch up"; and child- When Hall and Tomblin (1978) fol- in school, the assumption is made that
hood language disorders during the lowed a group of 18 language-disor- the child has mastered certain Ian-

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guage forms and concepts and can use 1974), problems in the development of wellness are noted here to reinforce the
language and language knowledge for figurative language (Lee & Kamhi, fact that children with persistent lan-
learning to read, write, and participate 1990), word retrieval deficits (German, guage disorders also are developing as
in classroom activities. 1979, 1982; Rubin, Bernstein, & Katz, individuals within different social con-
The differences between the lan- 1989; Wolf, 1982), problems in the texts. Consequently, perceiving chil-
guage the child has acquired and the development of oral and written nar- dren with language disorders only
language required for learning in ratives (Garnett, 1986; Montague, as having problems associated with
school often result in ineffective Maddus, & Dereshiwsky, 1990; deficits in language forms or content
and inefficient learning by children Nodine, Barenbaum, & Newcomer, will restrict educational planning for
with language disorders. This is one 1985; Roth & Speckman, 1986; Scott, these children.
reason why children with language 1989; Westby, 1985), and difficulties in Finally, clinical experience and re-
disorders remain academically vulner- text comprehension (Westby, 1989). search findings suggest that persistent
able throughout the school years. Con- In addition, there is evidence that problems with later language learning
sequently, educators will want to children with persistent language dis- do not exist independent of other prob-
know that language disorders and the orders are at risk for psychiatric dis- lems in cognitive development or in
learning of earlier language forms can orders, especially as they mature style. As noted for individuals with
persist throughout the school years. (Baker & Cantwell, 1982; Cantwell, learning disabilities, children with lan-
This understanding will help educators Baker; & Mattison, 1980). These stud- guage disorders also have a lack of
plan a comprehensive approach to ies suggest that the psychological ad- effective and efficient learning of
educating children with language dis- justment of children with only mild strategies, difficulty in the integration
orders that will include a continuum of speech problems is better than it is for of subskills, problems in activation
curricular and instructional options, as boys and girls with language disor- of what is learned, and changes in
well as providing appropriate related ders. In their follow-up studies, Baker problem-solving approaches (Meltzer,
services necessary to facilitate language and Cantwell (1987) noted that the 1990; Swanson, 1989; Torgesen &
learning and educational success. prevalence rates of psychiatric prob- Licht, 1983). Because of the effects of
lems increased from 44% to 60% from language on cognitive development
the early years into late childhood. during the school years, persistent
Other Factors Associated Gualtieri, Koriath, Van Bourgondien, problems with growth and generaliza-
with Childhood and Saleeby (1983) noted that, in a tion of learned material pose serious
Language Disorders study of 40 consecutive admissions to obstacles for children with language
a psychiatric unit, 20 children evi- disorders (Johnston, 1988; Kamhi,
Language deficits not only are pres- denced at least moderate language dis- 1988). Neuropsychological approaches
ent at the beginning of school, but also orders. Gualtieri and his associates to the study of patterns of cognition
can emerge from time to time during emphasized the importance of recon- and language abilities have integrated
middle, junior, and high school years. sidering the relationship between perspectives that were once considered
Recent research findings suggest that, language disorders and behavioral discrete and noncontinuous (Rudel,
because language learning continues problems. This reconsideration was Holmes, & Pardes, 1988).
through adolescence, additional lan- supported by Camarata, Hughes, and
guage problems may not be evident Ruhl (1988) in their work on the occur-
until then (Ehren & Lenz, 1989). In rence of language disorders in a group Persistence, Delay, and
fact, the learning of language forms, of children with a primary diagnosis of
behavioral disturbance. Models of
Developmental Catch-up
meanings, and uses continues through
late childhood into adolescence (Men- directionality and causality between There is a debate about whether the
yuk, 1985; Simon, 1985). These later psychiatric problems and language dis- language productions of children with
attainments of language are critical for orders have yet to be determined. language disorders reflect simple de-
socialization, content learning, read- However, Prizant et al. (1990) evalu- lays in acquisition, or are deviant and
ing, and writing (Wiig & Semel, 1984). ated different models of causality that therefore suggest abnormality in un-
Some of the later-appearing lan- can be used to study the relations derlying language processes and com-
guage problems include delays in the among language, emotional wellness, petence. The current evidence sug-
learning of morphology (Johnston & and psychiatric disorders. Similarly, gests that children with language
Schery, 1976; Wiig & Fleischmann, the recent work of Bryan (1986), Bryan disorders demonstrate a slower rate of
1980), differences in syntactic abilities and Bryan (1990), and Pearl and Bryan acquiring lexical, syntactic, and
as seen in both comprehension and (1990) discusses social factors and vic- morphological structures and accom-
production (Menyuk & Flood, 1981; timization in individuals with learning plish acquisition of language at a later
Wallach, 1985; Wiig & Semel, 1973, disabilities. Social and psychological age than their peers (Johnston, 1982).

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There is also evidence that persistence Using a natural history framework, child's cognitive and linguistic abilities
of language impairment may even ex- we can postulate that differences in are synchronous with the demands
tend into adulthood (Johnson & Bla- rates and variations in patterns of lan- made for the learning of a specific task
lock, 1987). While there are reports of guage acquisition, in turn, induce qual- or subject matter (Bashir, 1989).
children who produce deviant struc- itative differences in the structure of For many children with language dis-
tures not reflected in normal develop- behavior (Gould, 1977). These qualita- orders, an asynchrony may exist. This
ment (Weiner, 1985), the majority of tive differences will influence the effec- asynchrony is reflected in differences
the studies demonstrate that the prob- tiveness and efficiency with which a between the child's language abilities
lems are associated with late emer- behavior can be applied or learned and the uses and applications of lan-
gence, extended time of acquisi- (Bashir, Kuban, Kleinman, & Sca- guage required for successful learning.
tion, and reduced frequency of use vuzzo, 1984). What is seen as overall For children with language disorders,
Qohnston, 1982; Leonard, 1972). differences in the behavior of a child the factors that contribute to the asyn-
In educational planning for children with language disorder can be under- chrony become important in under-
with language disorders, how might stood as the consequences of inter- standing both the maintenance and
issues related to extended time and age actions between the constraints and onset of other language or learning
of acquisition be understood? Persis- differences within the individual and problems (Bashir et al., 1984). There-
tence of language problems should not the demands of different learning tasks fore, defining factors that perpetuate
be interpreted as a simple develop- and environments. asynchrony between the child's devel-
mental delay. This latter notion sug- The later problems in academic opment of language and school-based
gests the possibility of normalization learning experienced by children with language requirements, as well as de-
across time and assumes that a differ- language disorders are, then, best un- fining the consequences of the asyn-
ent rate of growth is the major prob- derstood as a special case of reciprocal chrony for the child's development, is
lem. The persistence of language defi- causation (Stanovich, 1986). Using the basic to understanding the late sequelae
cits into the school years does not notion of reciprocal causation, we are of preschool language disorders. This
imply that the children "will get it in a better position to understand the understanding will explain, in part, the
eventually, in time." It is not simply interrelations among such factors as continued academic vulnerability of
a matter of providing more time or (a) developmental rate; (b) variations children with language disorders
early treatment so that the child with in patterns of language behaviors; throughout their school years.
a language disorder will eventually (c) the time in which basic compo-
"catch up" with age peers. In Strom- nent processes emerge and the conse-
inger's (1983) follow-up study, lan- quences on learning; (d) learning task Language Disorders
guage problems in the children she demands; (e) the overall effects of per- and Learning
studied persisted into the early school sistent language disorders on cumula- to Read
years, and most of the children con- tive learning in school (e.g., reading
tinued to receive speech and language comprehension, writing strategies, Certainly, not all preschool children
therapy. and learning content information); and with language disorders have prob-
There is little evidence of "catch-up" (f) the effects of achievements in read- lems learning to read. Important ad-
of academic abilities in the lives of ing and writing, as well as content vances are occurring in understanding
some children with language disor- learning, on the development of later which children are at risk for reading
ders. The results of a San Diego longi- language. Similar arguments have problems (Catts, 1991; Liebergott et al.,
tudinal study (Rissman et al., 1990; been advanced for students with learn- 1989). When the results of studies of
Tallal, 1988, 1990) suggest that chil- ing disabilities (Swanson, 1987) and in preschool children with language dis-
dren with language disorders do show reading (Stanovich, 1986). orders are considered collectively,
growth in learning across the grades, Children develop language compe- reading problems, including problems
but the learning curves are not equiva- tence and performance at varying rates in word recognition and comprehen-
lent to those of students who are not and to different levels (Lahey, 1988). sion, occur in 40% to 75% of the chil-
language disordered. This is especially For children with language disorders, dren (Aram, Ekelman, & Nation, 1984;
true in the area of language arts. Fur- the differential growth in language abil- Aram & Nation, 1980; Catts, in press;
thermore, while there is evidence of ities may or may not be synchronous Graham et al., 1988; King, Jones, &
change in language behaviors over with the demands of the elementary, Lasky, 1982; Scarborough, 1990; Scar-
time, there also is evidence of invar- middle, junior, or senior high school borough & Dobrich, 1990; Strominger
iance in the patterns of language curriculum. Clinical experience sug- & Bashir, 1977).
impairment observed across time gests that school success for children Strominger (1983) studied the rela-
(Aram & Nation, 1975; Bishop & with language disorders will be pred- tion of language deficits to reading,
Edmundson, 1987). icated on the degree to which the spelling, and written language produc-

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tion. All 38 children (9 girls, 29 boys) impairment within the group when cated that these deficits in temporal
were diagnosed as language impaired compared to nonaffected controls processing were absent in a group of
before 5 years of age; they ranged in (Neilsen, Sorensen, & Sorensen, 1981; reading-impaired children who did not
age from 9 to 12 years at follow-up. The Puck, Tennes, Frankenburg, Bryant, & have concomitant oral language defi-
majority of the children had problems Robinson, 1975). Further studies of cits or difficulty learning phonics.
with linguistically complex tasks of ver- XXY boys indicate that they develop Recent studies by Rissman et al. (1990)
bal comprehension, and even more problems in both language and read- indicated that children with receptive
problems with expressive language ing (Graham, Bashir, Stark, Silbert, & language disorders may have more se-
production. None of the 38 children Walzer, 1988; Graham, Bashir, Walzer, vere reading deficits than other lan-
were free of language-related prob- Stark, & Gerald, 1981; Pennington, guage-impaired children, although this
lems, although the range was from Puck, & Robinson, 1980; Robinson, pattern is not seen clearly in the recent
mild to moderately severe. The mean Puck, & Pennington, 1979; Walzer report by Catts (in press) on early iden-
achievement on the Gray Oral Read- et al., 1978). Graham et al. (1988) tification of dyslexia. Certainly, further
ing Test for boys as a grade equivalent studied 14 XXY boys (mean age 9 study is needed if we are to under-
of 3.8 (actual mean grade placement = years, 7 months), who were identified stand the differential outcomes for
5.1), and for girls was 2.7 (actual mean during neonatal cytogenetic screening, different subtypes of language dis-
grade placement = 4.8). Strominger and a control group of 15 nondisabled orders on learning to read and the con-
did not intend to imply causality boys (mean age 9 years, 3 months); all tributions of concomitant problems in
between language and reading dis- boys were studied during the third-to- language processing.
orders. She advanced the argument, fourth-grade transitional period. All of the studies noted above address
consistent with previous explanations The results of the study indicated reading during the early elementary
(Strominger & Bashir, 1977), that when significant differences between the grades when the child is learning rela-
language learning is disturbed in the groups on measures of verbal IQ, ex- tions between speech and orthographic
initial stages of acquisition, there is pressive language functions, and read- representation. In Chairs (1983) stages
increased risk for future deficits in the ing and spelling achievement. Of the of reading development, these children
learning of tasks that are language 14 boys with XXY, 11 evidenced diffi- are within Stages I and II, where chil-
based and require application of lan- culties with sequencing nonverbal dren are developing automatic word
guage knowledge. tones at rapid rates of presentation; recognition abilities as well as practic-
As in other studies, there were more they also had difficulty preserving the ing reading extensively with different
boys than girls reported in Strom- serial order of both speech and non- kinds of literature. There is evidence
inger' s (1983) study. Depending on speech stimuli. These difficulties cor- (Catts, in press; Graham et al., 1988;
sampling and definitional criteria used, related with oral language problems Liebergott et al., 1989; Tallal & Stark,
there is now evidence that the num- (word-finding deficits, problems in 1982) that those children with specific
bers of boys to girls with dyslexia may syntactic production, narrative produc- language disorders who evidence con-
be closer than previously believed tion problems), reading deficits, and comitant problems in auditory rate
(Shaywitz, Shaywitz, Fletcher, & Esco- spelling problems. Performances on processing or metalinguistic abilities
bar, 1990). Strominger pointed out in the Gilmore Oral Reading Test re- are the same children who will be more
her discussion that, when the girls in vealed significant differences, with the likely to have difficulty learning to read
her study were affected with language XXY boys performing lower on accu- during Stages I and II.
and reading disorders, they were more racy, speed, and comprehension. On In their study of predictors of read-
severely involved than the boys with the Gates-McGinitie Silent Reading ing problems in a group of high-risk,
similar disorders. This is an intriguing Test, the mean comprehension of the premature children and children with
finding and will need further clarifica- XXY group was equivalent to Grade specific language impairment, Lieber-
tion through longitudinal research. 2.8, in comparison with a Grade 5.7 gott et al. (1989) reported that 70%
Certainly, the study of family aggrega- achievement by the control group. (n = 23) of the children with language
tion effects and differential outcome on The association among oral language impairment were problem readers;
the language abilities of boys and girls deficits, reduced language processing, prediction of their reading status was
will be very helpful in addressing and reading problems is reported in based on the use of a metalinguistic
issues of sex differences (Tallal, Ross, the work of Tallal (1980a, 1980b). What battery that included syllable and pho-
& Curtiss, 1989). is striking in her work is the finding neme segmentation of words, judg-
Studies of boys with XXY aneu- that children with reading and oral lan- ments of grammatical correctness,
ploidy (Kleinfelter Syndrome) indicate guage problems have neuropsycholog- naming, and story recall. It is interest-
that delays in speech and language ical deficits similar to those of children ing to note that 31% of the children in
development are common, and there with language disorders alone. In fact, the high-risk groups who were not
is an increase in speech and language studies by Tallal and Stark (1982) indi- overtly language impaired also had

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problems with reading and did not gence of reading in children with rest of the class in content area learn-
succeed on the test battery of meta- language disorders. The effects of ing, especially when that learning is
processing tasks. receptive language disorders on text dependent on processing text-based in-
Current theory in reading disabilities comprehension need to be described, formation or applying prior subject
supports the argument that deficits in but work such as that of Menyuk and knowledge to current learning demands.
phonological processing are basic to Flood (1981), on comprehension be- The dual consequences of language
the reading problems of children with tween oral and written language, impairment and reading disability can
dyslexia (Carts, 1989a, 1989c; Kamhi begins to provide essential data. There best be understood, as noted earlier,
& Catts, 1986, 1989; Liberman, 1973; is no research on differences in read- when viewed as a special case of re-
Liberman & Shankweiler, 1986; Stano- ing comprehension across different ciprocal causation. Stanovich's (1986)
vich, 1986,1988; Wagner & Torgesen, texts, such as narrative and expository discussion of Matthew effects must
1987). As the child is required to deal texts, for children with language dis- also be considered as a way of con-
with a phonological analysis task, cer- orders. Research on the development ceptualizing and understanding the
tain inherent factors may interfere with of reading within content areas is spe- chronic nature of language disorders
his or her performance, including (a) cifically lacking for children with lan- and the potential problems encoun-
delays in the emergence of phonolog- guage disorders. There are those who tered by these children throughout the
ical awareness, (b) latencies in retrieval argue that the later reading problems school years. His arguments are impor-
time, (c) restrictions in verbal process- of school-age children with language tant because they can influence the
ing within short-term memory, and disorders reflect problems with text- philosophy and approaches used to
(d) restrictions in the child's ability level processing (Roth & Spekman, develop educational practices for chil-
to produce complex phonological se- 1989; Westby, 1989) and ones related dren with language disorders.
quences (Catts, 1989b). Certainly, to a lack of development of higher
given the findings of the studies noted order language abilities (Wiig & Semel,
above, deficits in phonological aware- 1984). Children with Language
ness and other metalinguistic abilities Finally, we know little about the Disorders and the
become a critical focus in explaining effects of reduced reading experiences School Years
problems associated with learning to on the later development of language
read for children with language dis- in children with language disorders, or Not all preschool children with lan-
orders. They are also the place to be- about their development of subject guage disorders have problems learn-
gin in developing effective intervention information, although the positive ing when they attend school. Reports
approaches for children with language effects of such experiences are well indicate that 50% to 75% of children
disorders (Blachman, 1989). documented for nonaffected children with language disorders will evidence
Deficits in phonological awareness, (Stanovich, 1986). In discussing the persistent academic problems (Aram &
however, do not necessarily explain all development of differences in readers, Hall, 1989). In the work of Tallal (1990),
of the problems in reading encoun- Stanovich noted that "reading itself is it is apparent that, across the early
tered by children with language dis- an important contributor to the devel- school grades, children with language
orders, especially by the middle opment of many language/cognitive disorders achieve, but at a reduced rate
grades. As noted earlier in this paper, skills" (p. 364). The contribution and amount when compared to their
research has shown that children with occurs in vocabulary and syntactic nondisabled peers. This reduced rate
language disorders have persistent growth as well as general learning, in- and amount of learning also was re-
difficulties in comprehension of syntac- formation, and cultural perspectives. flected in the Connecticut longitudinal
tic structures, problems in the manage- It is reasonable to argue that the con- study by Shaywitz (1989).
ment of narratives and expository text, tinued academic vulnerability in chil- The San Diego longitudinal study
deficits in word retrieval abilities, and dren with language disorders in the was developed to study various out-
possible restrictions in range of vocab- middle grades reflects the interactive comes for preschool children with lan-
ulary development. The ways in which effects of persistent language problems, guage disorders (Rissman et al., 1990;
these problems contribute to persistent restrictions on later language develop- Tallal, 1990). For the children with lan-
reading deficits in children with lan- ment resulting from reduced reading, guage disorders, types of educational
guage impairment are unclear, and and restricted exposure to different placements changed across the 5 years
additional research is needed. texts and text-based information. The of the study. At 4 and 5 years of age,
Longitudinal research is needed if long-term effects on general knowl- their placement in special self-con-
we are to understand the relation of edge and information have yet to be tained classes predominated, with ap-
language disorders and language pro- determined. However, it is not surpris- proximately 53% of the children placed
cessing deficits to reading disorders. ing that teachers often state that these in a special day class by kindergarten.
We have little information on the emer- children cannot keep pace with the After the kindergarten period, there

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was a gradual increase in the use of related support services that were avail- port services, for children with lan-
pull-out service programs and a de- able and provided. In addition, little is guage disorders:
cline in self-contained class placement. known about how therapy was used to
Finally, by 8 years of age, only 23% of address those skills and abilities needed 1. The child's ability to adapt to differ-
the children were in special class place- to facilitate academic outcomes. ent teaching styles and expecta-
ments, while 40% were involved in What we now understand about the tions;
pull-out programs and 37% in regular educational development of children 2. The child's ability to accommodate
class placements. with language disorders suggests that different kinds of instructional lan-
While an expressive language deficit they can appear different over time as guage (e.g., group discussion,
was used most often to determine a function of their inherent abilities and working in cooperative learning
school placement in the San Diego differences, the demands of the curric- groups, and, above all, lecture
study, it was the child's receptive lan- ula, and instructional outcomes. From formats);
guage abilities as measured at 4 years time to time, children with language 3. The child's ability to meet, in the
of age that predicted school placement disabilities will require careful con- time allocated, the demands made
at age 8 years, especially for those sideration. This is especially true dur- for learning in different content
who remained in self-contained classes ing transitions from grade to grade. areas (e.g., social studies, science);
(Rissman et al., 1990). The data suggest Throughout the child's school years, 4. The child's ability to read, under-
that the children with language disor- the assumption is that each grade shift stand, and accommodate different
ders become "increasingly differenti- assumes that the child can apply, texts for learning content;
ated from each other" (p. 56). Achieve- extend, and elaborate previously ac- 5. The child's ability to produce dif-
ment in language arts and nonverbal quired skills, strategies, and infor- ferent pieces of writing (e.g., sum-
IQ measures also influenced placement mation (Bashir et al., 1984). As a con- maries, book reports, research
in the early elementary grades. sequence, major grade transitions, papers, poetry, and other school-
Educational outcomes for children such as between kindergarten and first sponsored or self-initiated writing);
with language disorders is an impor- grade or third and fourth grade, will 6. The child's ability to meet different
tant consideration at the postsecondary be particularly challenging. As literacy communication demands necessary
level, as well. In a study of the extrin- requirements increase and as students for effective interaction within the
sic and intrinsic factors affecting col- are expected to assume responsibility classroom and peer group;
lege success for students with learning for their learning, the middle grades as 7. The child's ability to be indepen-
disabilities, Vogel and Adelman (1990) well as transitions to junior and senior dent and self-directed as a learner;
noted that support services provided high school can be problematic. By 8. The teacher's knowledge of, and
to students with learning disabilities ability to understand, the child's
these grades, administrative decisions
were effective in assisting these stu- language status and needs and use
can be restrictive with regard to educa-
dents to complete degree requirements this understanding when develop-
tional planning. This is especially true
at the same rate as their peers without ing curricula and instructional ap-
if there are reduced educational op-
disabilities. However, Vogel and Adel- proaches; and
tions available for children with lan-
man do note that for the nongraduat- 9. The educational team's ability to
guage disorders.
ing group of students with learning design and implement appropriate
disabilities, persistently poorer oral educational programs and coordi-
nate services on behalf of the child's
language disabilities were present and Some Thoughts on learning abilities and needs as well
accounted for one third of the variance Educating Children with as personal and social development.
in graduation status.
Language Disorders
Similarly, Finucci, Gottfredson, and The professionals who participated
Childs (1985), in their follow-up study In a survey, elementary and middle in the survey also stated that their con-
of boys with dyslexia, reported that grade teachers, special educators, and cerns for children with language dis-
those young men who were severely speech-language pathologists were orders change over time. The concerns
affected and who did not profit asked to describe their concerns for of the teachers and speech-language
from a structured language therapy students with language disorders as pathologists are influenced, for exam-
approach were less likely to earn bach- these children advanced from the ele- ple, by such factors as (a) increased
elor's degrees, work in reading-inten- mentary school into the middle school demands for learning new concepts
sive job settings, or have adult literate (Weston Public School, 1987). The par- within a specific time interval, (b) in-
habits. What is not clear in many of the ticipants generally agreed that the creased requirements for independent
studies is the nature of the therapeutic following factors needed careful con- learning and management of text-
experiences of the students, the kinds sideration when planning educational based information, (c) increased de-
of educational placements used, and programs and options, as well as sup- mands for verbal participation in the

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classroom, and (d) the faculty's per- tematic teaching (Ellis et al., 1991; knowledge (Ball & Blachman, 1988;
ception that students have appropriate Palincsar, 1986a; Sheinker & Sheinker, Blachman, 1989).
study skill approaches and are moti- 1989). However, those who use learn- Within the classroom setting, teach-
vated to learn. The insights of these ing strategy approaches with chil- ers and other educational specialists
educators are basic to conceptualizing dren who have language disorders will will want to attend to instructional lan-
educational and language intervention want to understand the possible lan- guage (Silliman & Wilkinson, 1990) as
for children with language disorders guage constraints inherent in the strat- well as textbook structures and lan-
throughout the school years. egy (Ehren & Lenz, 1989). In addition, guage (Nelson, 1984; Westby, 1989).
How one intervenes to enhance lan- teachers will need support in develop- Similarly, effective teaching of compre-
guage abilities and provide strategies ing teaching approaches that are sen- hension can be incorporated into ev-
necessary for mastery of essential cur- sitive to the information-processing eryday instructional practices through
ricular concepts remains an important abilities of their students (Lenz, the use of such approaches as recipro-
practical concern for children and Bulgren, & Hudson, 1988). These cal teaching (Palincsar & Brown, 1984)
adolescents with language disorders teaching approaches, when used in and methods based on learning strate-
(Buttrill, Niizawa, Briemer, Takahashi, conjunction with content enhancement gies, for example, multipass, an ap-
& Hern, 1989; Chabon & Prelock, 1989; strategies, are important for keeping proach for improving text compre-
Ehren & Lenz, 1989). Collaborative students with language disorders in hension (Schumaker, Deshler, Alley,
planning and problem solving (Fergu- the regular classroom. One aspect of Warner, & Denton, 1984). Additional
son, 1991; Idol, Paolucci-Whitcomb, & content enhancement approaches is in strategies for comprehension monitor-
Nevin, 1986; Magnotta, 1991) and the the use of discussion and semantic ing and enhancement also can be used,
use of effective teaching practices and informational approaches to organiz- including self-questioning (Wong,
learning strategies (Ellis, Deshler, ing course content information. The ef- 1985) and other approaches (Seiden-
Lenz, Schumaker, & Clark, 1991; Ger- fective use of semantic organizers in berg, 1988). Approaches to teaching
sten & Woodward, 1990; Seidenberg, content areas can be used as a means writing need to acknowledge the prob-
1988) are important for the coordinated for teaching concepts and vocabulary lems that children with language dis-
and integrated education of these chil- as well as facilitating reading compre- orders often have in self-initiation and
dren. Providing ongoing support to hension and writing for children with organization of writing (Scott, 1989),
teachers also will facilitate the manage- language disorders (Pehrsson & Den- while also providing a guided-process
ment of children with language dis- ner, 1988). method of writing instruction that fa-
orders in the regular classroom (Baker Teachers need to address a number cilitates writing for these children
& Zigmond, 1990). of critical issues when planning curric- (Dagenais & Beadle, 1984). Finally,
There are effective approaches to the ula and instruction approaches for chil- teaching new vocabulary and other
instruction and treatment of children dren with language disorders (Buttrill forms of language directly related to
with language disorders. School ad- et al., 1989; Ehren & Lenz, 1989; Hoff- content learning, including preteach-
ministrators will need to provide man, 1990; Miller, 1989; Norris, 1989; ing of content words and word con-
teachers and related service providers Paul-Brown, 1988; Wallach & Miller, cepts, can be helpful for students with
with opportunities needed to learn and 1988). A few ideas are included here language disorders. The teaching of
use these approaches together. Teach- to provide some understanding of the language must relate to the day-to-day
ers and other related service providers range of considerations necessary activities and needs of the children,
need to know the unique ways in when educating children with lan- with teachers staying ever-mindful of
which the child's cognitive, linguistic, guage disorders. For example, teachers the academic, social, and personal
and affective development influence will want an understanding of expres- functions of language (Bashir, 1989).
his or her academic readiness, learn- sive language problems and strategies If appropriate educational planning
ing to read and write, content learning, for assisting the child to respond ver- for children with language disorders is
and social development. Teachers and bally within the classroom (Ripich, to occur, there must be a shared under-
educational specialists will want to use 1989; Ripich & Spinelli, 1985; Simon, standing of the overall educational
an ongoing system for monitoring the 1985; Swartz & Solot, 1980; Wallach & goals and expectations for these stu-
day-to-day requirements for learning Miller, 1988). Similarly, the initial dents by both the administrators and
within the classroom and for generali- teaching of reading practices can ad- the faculty. The development of class-
zation of language behaviors in the dress the fact that children with lan- room models and curriculum; choice of
classroom (Hughes, 1989). guage disorders have reduced pho- instructional routines, practices, and
Metacognitive approaches that focus nological processing abilities and strategies; and selection of textbooks
on effective, efficient learning strate- therefore need to use systematic ap- and materials will follow from an un-
gies are important for students with proaches to teaching reading that in- derstanding of language and mental
language disorders and require sys- clude facilitation of metalinguistic development, their influences on learn-

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will need to be thoughtfully integrated tudinal follow-up of children with (pp. 53-78). San Diego: College-Hill.
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Treatment implications. School Psychology ing, writing, and learning in the class-
Finally, addressing the personal needs
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corporate m a n y of these ideas to facili- velopmental language disorders. Journal learning disabled children's communica-
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