New toolkit will help identify early language issues

June 14, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- A new assessment tool will help prevent multilingual children being wrongly diagnosed with speech and language problems.

Dr. Carolyn Letts, Newcastle University, has just finished working on an update of the Reynell Development Language Scales (NRDLS), widely used by speech and language therapists to identify problems in children from three to seven-and-a-half-years-old.

The new edition contains a Multilingual Toolkit, an additional handbook that offers on how to adapt and use NRDLS for children whose first language is not English.

“Many children referred to speech and language therapists in the UK have English as an additional language and a diversity of first languages,” explained Dr. Letts, who carried out the review with Dr. Indra Sinka. “This can lead to both under and over referral as it can be difficult to identify and diagnose impairment in these cases. Often the child’s characteristics are simply features of second language acquisition rather than other underlying problems.”

The authors devised the toolkit after discovering that some therapists had been literally translating the original material, which does not take into account the complexity of the language and could easily lead to false readings.

As in previous editions, there are two scales: one explores aspects of the child’s understanding of selected vocabulary items and grammar (Comprehension Scale); and the other examines how the child uses the language (Production Scale).

It was standardised on 1,266 children in the UK aged between two and seven-and-a-half years-old and the revisions are based on advances in language acquisition and indicators of language impairment, along with user feedback.

“If a child is not speaking or their language seems behind it suggests they may need additional help, and this is where the test comes in,” said Dr. Letts, who is speaking about her latest research at the Child Language Seminar in Newcastle this week (13/14 June 2011).

“With increasing concerns about children starting – or indeed, finishing – school with difficulties, it’s vital that any issues are identified early on and suitable interventions put in place as soon as possible.”

The play-based format of NRDLS has been retained, with engaging stimulus material that includes a trio of toys – a monkey, teddy and rabbit – that can ‘direct’ as they carry out the various tasks. The amount of material in the pack has been more than halved to make assessment quicker and more straightforward, so most assessments should now take approximately 45 minutes.

Dr. Letts, who co-authored the new edition with Professor Edwards (University of Reading) and Dr Sinka (Open University), was also involved in the previous revision 14 years ago.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Oxytocin enhances spirituality, new study says

September 21, 2016

Oxytocin has been dubbed the "love hormone" for its role promoting social bonding, altruism and more. Now new research from Duke University suggests the hormone may also support spirituality.

Study reveals a biological link between stress and obesity

September 21, 2016

Metabolic and anxiety-related disorders both pose a significant healthcare burden, and are in the spotlight of contemporary research and therapeutic efforts. Although intuitively we assume that these two phenomena overlap, ...

Men with anxiety are more likely to die of cancer, study says

September 20, 2016

Men over 40 who are plagued with the omnipresent of generalized anxiety disorder are more than twice as likely to die of cancer than are men who do not have the mental affliction, new research finds. But for women who suffer ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.