Some syntactic aspects of the oral language of 20 mildly intellectually handicapped,20 normal seven year old and 20 normal ten year old children were examined in order to determine the comparative development of the mildly intellectually handicapped children and some of the difficulties they might experience. The language was classified into 24 categories for various types of analysis. These types included traditional counts and an examination of the types of subordination as well as of non-conventional usage. In addition, Developmental Sentence Scoring (Lee : 1974) was used to assess the maturity of personal pronoun and main and secondary verb usage. The sentence repetition technique was employed as a means of assessing competence in a variety of later-developing structures. Questions were designed to assess ability in other specific syntactic areas. Analysis of variance was used to compare group scores and determine if any significant differences occurred. Several significant differences did occur. The findings provided strong evidence that the language of mildly intellectually handicapped children is more like that of children of the same chronological age than it is like that of children of the same mental age and that it is less mature than the former. These handicapped children experience considerable delay in the development of pronouns and verbs and have a high incidence of non-conventional usage. This study also provided evidence of the continuing language development of normal primary age children. Some methods of sampling and analysing oral language were found to be of particular value. Of these the sentence repetition technique seems promising both as a research tool and as a classroom instrument for assessing individual children's language competence. The importance of this and similar research lies in its implications for educational programming.
|Date of Award||1980|