This study reports on the sensitivity of sentence repetition as a marker of specific language impairment (SLI) in different subgroups of children in middle childhood and examines the role of memory and grammatical knowledge in the performance of children with and without language difficulties on this task. Eleven year old children, 197 with a history of SLI and 75 typically developing (TD) peers were administered sentence repetition, phonological short term memory (PSTM) and grammatical morphology tasks. Children with a history of SLI were divided into four subgroups: specific language impairment, non-specific language impairment, low cognition with resolved language and resolved. Performance on the sentence repetition task was significantly impaired in all four subgroups of children with a history of SLI when compared to their age peers. Regression analyses revealed grammatical knowledge was predictive of performance for TD children and children with a history of SLI. However, memory abilities were significantly predictive of sentence repetition task performance for children with a history of SLI only. Processes involved in sentence repetition are more taxing of PSTM for individuals with a history of SLI in middle childhood in a way that does not appear to be the case for TD children. © 2013 Hesketh, Conti-Ramsden.
- children with SLI
- sentence repetition
- phonological short term memory