Children with Late Language Emergence: Effects of Maternal Education and Language Use
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This study investigated the effects of maternal education and language use on vocabulary and mean-length-of-utterance (MLU) in 20 children with late language emergence (LLE). Multiple home visits were conducted over an 8-month period to measure child vocabulary growth using a standardized checklist and to collect spontaneous mother-child language samples. Standardized receptive and expressive test scores for the 20 children were obtained at the end of the 8 months. Results indicated that maternal education was positively associated with child MLU. Furthermore, the number of diff erent words (NDW) used by mothers was positively associated with child receptive vocabulary scores but curiously not with expressive vocabulary scores. Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) indicated that children with LLE diff ered in their vocabulary sizes and rates of growth, but that these differences were not accounted for by maternal education. Children with LLE appeared to benefit from hearing a wide variety of words, even though they may not immediately produce them. The primary mechanism driving vocabulary growth in children with LLE may differ from that in typical children, where maternal education has been argued to play a significant role. In any case, SLPs have further evidence that use of a large variety of words may be helpful in treating children with LLE, and they should continue to recommend this strategy to parents.