Comprehension problems in children with specific language impairment: Literal and inferential meaning

D. V M Bishop, C. Adams

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    A group of 61 schoolchildren with specific language impairment (SLI) was compared with a control group on a comprehension task, in which the child was questioned about a story that had been presented either orally or as a series of pictures. Half the questions were literal, requiring the child to provide a detail that had been mentioned or shown explicitly in the story. The remainder required the child to make an inference about what had not been directly shown or stated. SLI children were impaired on this task, even after taking into account 'comprehension age,' as assessed on a multiple-choice test. However, the effects of mode of presentation and question type were similar for control and SLI groups. Children who fitted the clinical picture of semantic-pragmatic disorder had lower scores than other SLI children on this task. In addition, they were more prone to give answers that suggested they had not understood the question. However, as with the other SLI children, there was no indication that they had disproportionate difficulty with inferential questions. It is concluded that SLI children are impaired in constructing an integrated representation from a sequence of propositions, even when such propositions are presented nonverbally.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)119-129
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Speech and Hearing Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1992


    • Child
    • Child Language
    • Comparative Study
    • Female
    • Human
    • diagnosis: Language Disorders
    • Language Tests
    • Male
    • Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
    • Verbal Behavior
    • Wechsler Scales


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