NEUROPSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT OF LANGUAGE, SENSORY-PERCEPTUAL, AND MOTOR PERFORMANCES AMONG DEVELOPMENTALLY DYSPHASIC, BRAIN DAMAGED, AND CONTROL CHILDREN.
AuthorFOSTER-VALDEZ, JAINE MARIE.
KeywordsLanguage disorders in children.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe impetus behind this investigation was a little-understood syndrome of retarded language development known as developmental dysphasia. Little agreement exists with respect to the characterization of children classified dysphasic, and even less is known regarding the etiology of this problem. One theoretical position postulates a lag in the maturation of systems relevant to language acquisition. A second position is oriented toward specific deficits which impede the development of language skills in some children. An emerging theme ties the difficulties of dysphasic children to some type of cerebral dysfunction. Another issue concerns the scope of the problems of developmentally dysphasic children. The bulk of research in this area focuses on language-related measures although it has been suggested that the difficulties underlying developmental dysphasia may extend to non-language areas. The paucity of studies of non-language abilities of dysphasic children has contributed to conceptualizations of developmental dysphasia as exclusively a language-related problem. The principal aim of this investigation was to attempt to characterize children with developmental dysphasia within a neuropsychological context, evaluating the adequacy of current theories concerning the etiology of developmental dysphasia and looking at the abilities of dysphasic children in non-language areas. A group of children classified as developmentally dysphasic were compared with groups of normal and brain damaged children on measures of language (Reitan-Indiana Aphasia Screening Test), sensory-perceptual (Reitan-Klove Sensory-Perceptual Examination), and motor (Finger Oscillation Test and grip strength) abilities. A scoring procedure was designed which allowed for the qualitative evaluation of responses as they relate to the integrity of brain functions. Results indicated that children with cerebral damage perform more poorly than do control subjects on measures of normal language and sensory-perceptual and motor abilities, showing evidence of abnormalities across all areas. Children in the dysphasic group performed deficiently in the language area and had difficulties in the sensory-perceptual area. Motor performances of children in the dysphasic group, were substandard when compared to the motor abilities of normal children. These results support a theory of brain dysfunction as a contributing factor in the retarded development of language and other abilities in developmentally dysphasic children.