Fluency of School-Aged Children With a History of Specific Expressive Language Impairment: An Exploratory Study

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Boscolo, B., Bernstein Ratner, N. & Rescorla, L. (2002). Fluency characteristics of children with a history of Specific Expressive Language Impairment (SLI-E). American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 11, 41-49.



A large volume of literature now links language demand and fluency behaviors in children. Although it might be reasonable to assume that children with relatively weak language skills might demonstrate higher levels of disfluency, the sparse literature on this topic is characterized by conflicting findings on the relationship between language impairment and disfluency. However, in studies finding elevated disfluency in children with specific language impairment, a higher frequency of disfluencies more characteristic of stuttering has been noted. This study asks whether children with long-standing histories of language delay and impairment are more disfluent, and display different types of disfluencies than their typically developing, age-matched peers. Elicited narratives from 22 pairs of 9-year-old children were analyzed for fluency characteristics. Half of the children had histories of specific expressive language impairment (HSLI-E), whereas the others had typical developmental histories. The children with HSLI-E were significantly more disfluent than their peers and produced more stutter-like disfluencies, although these behaviors were relatively infrequent in both groups. Implications for clinical intervention and future research are discussed.