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2019 ASHA Research Symposium: Pamela A. Hadley, Sentence Diversity at the Boundary

Version 2 2020-11-23, 18:40
Version 1 2020-10-16, 18:39
posted on 2020-11-23, 18:40 authored by Pamela A. Hadley
Purpose: This review article summarizes programmatic research on sentence diversity in toddlers developing language typically and explores developmental patterns of sentence diversity in toddlers at risk for specific language impairment.
Method: The first half of this review article presents a sentence-focused approach to language assessment and intervention and reviews findings from empirical studies of sentence diversity. In the second half, subject and verb diversity in three simple sentence types are explored in an archival database of toddlers with varying levels of grammatical outcomes at 36 months of age: low average, mild/moderate delay, and severe delay.
Results: Descriptive findings from the archival database replicated previous developmental patterns. All toddlers with low-average language abilities produced diverse simple sentences by 30 months of age and exhibited greater sentence diversity with first-person I-subjects before third-person subjects. Third-person subject diversity emerged in a developmental sequence, increasing in one-argument copula contexts and one-argument subject–verb sentences before two-argument subject–verb–object sentences. This developmental pattern held across all three outcome groups. Third-person subjects were least diverse for children with severe grammatical delays and were absent in all sentence contexts for two children with severe delays at 36 months.
Conclusions: Sentence diversity increases gradually and expands in predictable patterns. Understanding these developmental patterns may help identify and treat children who display unexpected difficulty combining different subjects and verbs in flexible ways.

Supplemental Material S1. Verbs by subject type.

Supplemental Material S2. Third-person subjects by sentence type.

Also included: Presentation video from the Research Symposium at the 2019 Annual Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association held in Orlando, FL.

Hadley, P. A. (2020). Exploring sentence diversity at the boundary of typical and impaired language abilities. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 63(10), 3236–3251.

Publisher Note: This article is part of the Forum: Advances in Specific Language Impairment Research & Intervention.


This review article stems from the 2019 Research Symposium at ASHA Convention, which was supported by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders of the National Institutes of Health under Award R13DC003383. Research reported in this publication was supported by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grants R03 DC04641 to Pamela Hadley and U01 DC017135 to Ann Kaiser, Megan Roberts, and Pamela Hadley (Multiple Principal Investigators).