Cognitive abilities in children with specific language impairment: Consideration of visuo-spatial skills

Rachel Hick, Nicola Botting, Gina Conti-Ramsden

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Background: The study is concerned with the cognitive abilities of children with specific language impairment (SLI). Previous research has indicated that children with SLI demonstrate difficulties with certain cognitive tasks despite normal non-verbal IQ scores. It has been suggested that a general processing limitation might account for the pattern of language and cognitive difficulties seen in children with SLI. The performances on a visuo-spatial short-term memory task and a visuo-spatial processing task were considered in a group of young children with SLI. Verbal short-term memory was also measured. Aims: To identify whether children with SLI demonstrate difficulties with visuo-spatial memory as well as verbal short-term memory. To see whether a visuo-spatial processing task without short-term memory requirements is problematic for children with SLI. To consider performance on these tasks over time. Methods & Procedures: Nine children with SLI (mean age 3;9 years at the study outset) and nine typically developing children (mean age 3;9 years at the study outset) were visited on three occasions over 1 year. Verbal short-term memory, visuo-spatial short-term memory and visuo-spatial processing tasks were administered to the children, and performance over time was compared between the two groups. Outcomes & Results: The children with SLI performed at a lower level than the typically developing children on the verbal short-term memory task. Both groups showed similar development on the verbal short-term memory task and the visuo-spatial processing task over time. Only the visuo-spatial short-term memory task showed slower development over time in the children with SLI relative to the typically developing children. Conclusions: Children with SLI demonstrated slower development on a visuo-spatial short-term memory task relative to typically developing children of the same chronological age. This finding has implications for speech and language therapists and other professionals working with children with SLI. It may mean that only certain types of visual support are suitable, and that children with SLI will have difficulty with tasks requiring a high level of processing, or a number of mental manipulations. © 2005 Royal College of Speech & Language Therapists.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)137-149
    Number of pages12
    JournalInternational Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
    Volume40
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2005

    Keywords

    • Cognition
    • Development
    • Language
    • Specific Language Impairment
    • Visuo-spatial

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