Developmental Language Disorders: From Phenotypes to Etiologies

By Mabel L. Rice; Steven F. Warren | Go to book overview

4
Dimensions of Individual Differences
in Communication Skills Among
Primary Grade Children
J. Bruce Tomblin
Xuyang Zhang
Amy Weiss
University of Iowa
Hugh Catts
University of Kansas
Susan Ellis Weismer
University of Wisconsin-Madison

The study of language disorders is conducted within many contexts that provide motivation for this research. One of these contexts is concerned with descriptive and explanatory accounts of individual differences in the development of communication skills. In this respect, the study of developmental language disorders (DLD) is part of a more general area of inquiry concerning the ways in which children differ with respect to communication development. As Revelle (2000) noted, there is an infinite number of ways in which individuals may differ from each other. However, psychological accounts attempt to reduce this number to a small set of latent traits that may account for a substantial amount of this variation. Once these latent dimensions of individual differences can be identified, we are then able to pose and test reasonable hypotheses that aim to explain these differences.

When viewed in the context of individual differences, cases of language impairment may be seen as representing extreme cases of normal variation, or, alternatively, language impairment may be viewed as qualitatively different from the variation found in normal language users. In the former view, explanations for normal variation should be sufficient to account for language impairment as well, whereas in the latter case, explanations

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