Early communicative and language development in Swedish children : methods, results, clinical implications, and prospects for the future
Abstract: The present thesis concerns communicative and language skills in Swedish children and the instruments designed to measure those skills. The primary focus of the paper is on findings related to the field of communicative and language skills and on important methodological issues.The introductory section of the thesis introduces the reader to the field of communication and language in children, with references to its long history, influential ideas, recent approaches, and areas designated worthy of research. Special attention is given to methodological issues. The thesis is composed of five empirical studies in communicative and language development. Study I concerns the validity and reliability of the instrument Swedish Early Communicative Development Inventories (SECDI). Study II-IV includes representative samples of Swedish children 8-16 months old, 16-28 months old, and children with Down syndrome 1-5 years old. Study V relates to characteristics of a new instrument specifically designed to measure natural speech.The results highlight the developmental trends and individual variation in the communicative development of children. The relation between gestures, vocabulary comprehension, and vocabulary production is discussed, as well as patterns in the development of different skills and the kind of growth functions that represent early development. Also gender differences in early communicative skills and several other issues related to communicative development are examined.The methodological discussion primarily bears on the disadvantages and limitations of parental reports, validity, the adaptation of an American instrument to Swedish problems, and sampling and missing data. The unique difficulties and prospects in using recordings and transcriptions are also outlined.The clinical implications emphasize the need to see language problems from a contextual perspective and to use a family centered approach for any intervention. Key words: Child, language, communication, parental reports, SECDI, natural speech, PLUS-3, Down syndrome, methodological issues, clinical implications
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