Treating Child Language Disorders: Lessons from African American English Presenters Harry N. Seymour Thomas Roeper Jill deVilliers Peter deVilliers *supported by NIH grant N01-DC-8-2104 *webpage:www.umass.edu/aae Clinical Problem Standardized tests for children who speak African American English The deficit/difference dilemma Too Many African American children fail Clinical Solution Make the tests harder Avoid somewhat superficial aspects of language Contrasts between dialects Focus on deep principles of language every child should know Noncontrastive elements between dialects Dialect Sensitive Language Test (DSLT) Becomes Diagnostic Evaluation of Language Variation (DELV) Diagnostic Evaluation of Language Variation (DELV) Variation in speech and language development Variation in speech and language disorders Variation in speech and language dialects Collaborators Peggy Speas Angelika Kratzer Barbara Pearson Eliane Ramos Lisa Green Lamya Abdulkarim Toya Wyatt Bart Hollebrandse Mike Dickey Linda Bland Mike Terry Tempe Champion Janice Jackson Laura Wagner D’Jaris Coles Robin Schafer Valerie Johnson Kristen Asplin Tim Bryant Frances Burns The Psychological Corporation Christina Foreman Lisa Selkirk Shelley Velleman Fred Hall Debra Garrett Minjoo Kim Ida Stockman Deanna Moore Joe Pater Caroline Jones Uri Strauss The DELV Process DELV-Screening Test Identifies language variation status Identifies students at risk for a disorder DELV-Criterion Referenced Test Diagnose speech and language disorders Syntax, Semantics, Pragmatic, Phonology Screener Morphosyntax Identifier Items Have/has (“The girl have (has) a big kite”) 3rd person present tense ‘s (“The girl always sleep(s).”) Doesn’t/don’t (“This boy don’t (doesn’t) like to swim.”) Be copula forms (They was (were) sick”) Screener Phonology Identifier Items Substitution f/th: bath --->baf Substitution v/th: breathe --->breav or bread Zero Cluster Element: gift--->gif Language Variation Status Mainstream American English (MAE) Some Variation from MAE Strong Variation from Mae Screener Diagnostic Items Past tense was/were auxiliary and copula forms (obligatory in both MAE and AAE). Possessive pronoun plurals (obligatory in both MAE and AAE). Non-word Repetition Wh-Question Comprehension Evidence from SLI Difficulty with morphosyntax Difficulty with variables and embedded clauses Difficulty repeating nonsense words Diagnostic Risk Status Lowest risk for a disorder--no follow-up Low to medium risk for a disorderClinician discretion Medium to high risk for a disorder-DELV recommended Highest risk for disorder--DELV recommended DELV-Criterion Referenced Test Phonology Syntax Pragmatics Semantics DELV Phonology Identifies phonologically impaired children Neutralizes the effects of dialect differences Provides age appropriate cut-off scores Phonology Structure 25 target phonemic Clusters Cluster targets only--two and three elements Initial and medial positions of words only Phonotactic Properties Copyrighted Picture Omitted Phon Examples 2 DELV Syntax Wh-Questions Passive Articles DELV Pragmatics Communication Role-taking Short Narrative Question Asking DELV Semantics Verb Contrasts Preposition Contrasts Quantifiers Fast Mapping -Real Verbs Fast Mapping -Novel Verbs Clinical Parity DELV is a linguistically and culturally fair test It works as well for African American children as it does for White children. It distinguishes typically developing students from disordered. This is achieved despite dialect differences Misdiagnosis Over-representation 14.8 % of general population 20.2% of special education Under-representation Unclear S pe h ni di sa is is bi lit y ge ut ua A D n n io tio at ta l ng en La m ng d op an ar Le ec el ul ar da op et P lR ta er al ev en en D M G m African American Children in Special Education % 0.4 0.35 0.3 0.25 0.2 % 0.15 0.1 0.05 0 Misdiagnosed Cases Child A (11093) 5 years old Black female Parents w/HS educ Strong diff from MAE Lang Disorder Child B (18678) 5 year old Black male Parents w/HS educ Strong diff from MAE Lang disorder Conclusions We have shown that a comprehensive assessment of children’s language development between the ages of 4 and 8 can be carried out in a dialect neutral fashion. These materials and procedures capture the development of several aspects of language that are vital for success in early schooling and the transition to literacy. They provide the clinician with a substantial profile of the child language strengths and weaknesses, not just a diagnostic categorization. As such they provide a much richer evaluation of language variation and its sources that has direct implications for areas and methods of intervention.