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Narrative skills in adolescents with a history of SLI in relation to non-verbal IQ scores

Wetherell, D., Botting, N. & Conti-Ramsden, G. (2007). Narrative skills in adolescents with a history of SLI in relation to non-verbal IQ scores. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 23(1), pp. 95-113. doi: 10.1177/0265659007072322


There is a debate about whether the language of children with primary language disorders and normal cognitive levels is qualitatively different from those with language impairments who have low or borderline non-verbal IQ (NVIQ). As children reach adolescence, this distinction may be even harder to ascertain, especially in naturalistic settings. Narrative may provide a useful, ecologically valid way in which to assess the language ability of adolescents with specific language impairment (SLI) who have intact or lowered NVIQ and to determine whether there is any discernable difference in every day language. Nineteen adolescents with a history of SLI completed two narrative tasks: a story telling condition and a conversational condition. Just under half the group (n = 8) had non-verbal IQs of 85. The remaining 11 had NVIQs in the normal range or above. Four areas of narrative (productivity, syntax, cohesion and performance) were assessed. There were no differences between the groups on standardized tests of language. However, the group with low NVIQ were poorer on most aspects of narrative, suggesting that cognitive level is important, even when language is the primary disorder. The groups showed similar patterns of differences between story telling and conversational narrative. It was concluded that adolescents with a history of SLI and poor cognitive levels have poorer narrative skills than those with normal range NVIQ even though these may not be detected by standardized assessment. Their difficulties present as qualitatively similar to those with normal range NVIQ and narratives appear impoverished rather than inaccurate.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: adolescents, assessment, narrative, non-verbal IQ, specific language impairment
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Wetherell Botting CR narrative paper CLTT for CRO.pdf]
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