Authors: Letto M, Bedrosian JL, Skarakis-Doyle E
Title: Application of Vygotskian developmental theory to language acquisition in a young child with cerebral palsy
Source: Augmentative and Alternative Communication 1994 10(3): 151-160
Year: 1994
Research Design: Single Case Design

Recently, the use of a model of normal language acquisition has been questioned in terms of its application to the study of language acquisition in children with little or no functional speech. These children, particularly those with severe motoric challenges, may exhibit atypical patterns in their language development. The need to examine other developmental theories sensitive to these potential unique patterns is warranted, and the purpose of this study was to conduct such an investigation. Specifically, Vygotsky's concept of the “Zone of Proximal Development” (ZPD) was used in conjunction with a normal model to develop methodology appropriate to the longitudinal study of language acquisition in a young child with cerebral palsy. Over a 10-month period, the child was engaged in collaborative interaction with an adult partner providing structured guidance (i.e., prompts) to elicit certain prelinguistic communicative functions. Overall, findings indicated an increase in the frequency of the child's communicative function initiations with the adult partner across time. These results were interpreted as evidence for the child's progression through the ZPD.

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