Authors: Nicholas K, Grierson T, Helen P, Miller C, Van Horne AO
Title: Varying Syntax to Enhance Verb-Focused Intervention for 30-Month-Olds With Language Delay: A Concurrent Multiple Baseline Design
Source: Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 2024 67(2): 562-572
Year: 2024
Research Design: Single Case Design

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study is to determine if 2.5-year-olds with language delay would learn verbs (spill) when presented with varying syntactic structure ("The woman is spilling the milk"/"The milk is spilling"; milk = patient or theme) in a therapeutic context. Children with language delay have proportionally small inventories of verbs, which limits expressive language development. Children who have typical language development learn verbs more robustly when presented with alternating arguments than with a single argument structure. METHOD: Three toddlers with expressive language delay (29-30 months of age) participated in a verb-focused treatment study using a concurrent multiple baseline design. Participants were shown action videos accompanied by sentences with varied argument structure for each target verb. To assess learning pre- and posttreatment, participants were asked to demonstrate actions corresponding to each verb. RESULTS: Visual inspection and tau analyses reveal significant posttreatment gains of target verbs taught with varying argument structures. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate that learning verbs with high variability of argument roles may facilitate a strong link between lexical representations of verbs and their syntactic structures. Using argument structure variability to teach verbs as an intervention strategy has great potential and should be tested further in larger group studies.

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