Children challenged by writing: The handwriting execution speed of children with specific language impairment (SLI) Vince Connelly, Julie Dockrell Sarah Critten & Kirsty Walter Supported by the Leverhulme Trust and ESRC Specific Language Impairment • Occurs in the absence of any organic, social or cognitive causes. Specific problems or disorders in comprehending or producing speech and a delayed learning of language Problems associated with limited processing, grammar, phonology & the lexicon • Criteria for diagnosis focuses on: Performance on a language test which is below the child’s chronological age Discrepancy between the child’s language skills and their nonverbal abilities SLI and writing • Children with SLI produce shorter, less interesting and poorly organized text at the sentence, paragraph and text level (Connelly, Dockrell & Barnett, 2011; Hooper et al, 2002). • Texts marred by inordinate numbers of spelling and grammatical errors (Dockrell, Lindsay & Connelly, 2009; Puranik, Lombardino & Altmann, 2007; MacArthur and Graham,1987). • An important early indication of writing difficulties is the low amount of written text produced under timed conditions, and this correlates with the quality of written expression in the primary years (Dockrell, Lindsay & Connelly, 2009; Dockrell & Mackie, 2004; Connelly, Dockrell & Barnett, 2011). Simple developmental model of writing Modification of the simple view of writing in Berninger and Amtmann (2003). Participants Specific language impairment (SLI) N = 33 with a specific language impairment Primary/elementary school 10.1 years old Significant gap between language and non-verbal ability Literacy difficulties – including reading, spelling and text production Age Match - matched on chronological age (CA) N = 33 Typically Developing Primary school 10.1 years old Language Ability Match - matched on CELF (LA) N = 33 Typically Developing No significant differences in non-verbal ability standard score Significantly younger, Primary school 8.2 years old 5 minute writing task (CBM) SLI Writing Task – Recorded on a digital writing tablet using “Eye & Pen” “One day I had the best weekend ever…” ‘Execution speed’ = the distance covered by the pen / by the time spent writing on the paper (excluding pausing) Composition Measures SLI Study SLI (n=33) Age Match (n=33) Language Match (n=33) Time taken (mins) 4.71 (0.73) 5.00 (0.34) 4.95 (0.31) CA=LA>SLI Number of words 52.0 (25.7) 76.4 (20.2) 51.7 (19.2) CA>SLI=LA Compositions Quality Rating (0-6) 2.42 (1.03) 4.23 (1.1) 2.73 (1.07) CA>SLI=LA 5.1 (3.9) 2.4 (1.9) 5.7 (3.9) CA<SLI=LA 10% 3% 11% Spelling errors • SLI are writing less and for a slightly shorter amount of time than CA. • SLI and LA matched for composition quality rating • SLI more misspellings than CA; no significant difference between SLI & LA Connelly, Dockrell, Walter & Critten (2012) Written Communication. 5 minute writing task (CBM) SLI Writing Task – Recorded on a digital writing tablet using “Eye & Pen” “One day I had the best weekend ever…” ‘Execution speed’ = the distance covered by the pen / by the time spent writing on the paper (excluding pausing) Temporal Measures Composition Task SLI Study SLI Age-matched Language-match Words per min 11.0 15.2 10.4 Execution speed (cm/s) 2.37 2.57 1.93 Pause % 60% 49% 56% Writing % 40% 51% 44% Of total time: • No significant difference between the handwriting execution of SLI and CA • More pausing associated with misspelling in SLI and LA match groups. Handwriting and composition Dockrell et al. (2007) WOLD composition task Z Scores over time Age 11 to Age 16 in children with SLI Handwriting fluency scores on the alphabet task at age 16 predicted the decrease in WOLD composition scores. The less fluent the handwriter then the more likely to show a decrease in composition over time. Alphabet Writing Task • Common measure of handwriting speed. • Are the children with SLI slow handwriters? • Write out the letters of the alphabet, in sequence, as quickly as possible in one minute. • Measure of number of letters associated with quality of compositions in many reported studies. 11 Temporal Measures DASH -Alphabet Task SLI Study SLI Age-matched Language-match Letters per min 26.3 46.5 28.9 Execution speed (cm/s) 3.1 3.0 2.3 Pause % 37% 26% 40% Writing % 63% 74% 60% Of total time: • No significant difference between the handwriting execution of SLI and CA Connelly, Dockrell, Critten & Walter (2012) In preparation Summary • No difference in handwriting execution speed between SLI Group and Age Match peers suggests that motor skills are not hindering handwriting execution in SLI at age 10. • Pausing is the key difference even in the alphabet task. • Pausing patterns are related to misspelling words in text • Quality and quantity of composition is linked with spelling ability levels. • Similar proportions of pause time between SLI Group and Language Match group suggest Language/Spelling skills hindering writing proficiency. Summary Thus, though SLI group and language ability match produce the same amount of written output the causes are different…. • Language Ability matched (but typically developing) children are actually slower at handwriting execution. • SLI group are faster at handwriting execution but pause for longer and so write less overall than children of the same age. Simple developmental model of writing Modification of the simple view of writing in Berninger and Amtmann (2003).