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Sonja Pruitt-Lord

San Diego State University

Monday, November 17th at 2 PM in AP&M 4301. Sonja Pruitt-Lord (San Diego State University) will be presenting.

Comparing language profiles of AAE-speaking children in poverty to those with SLI - Clinical and Theoretical Considerations

Children reared in poverty and those diagnosed with language impairments both perform poorly on standardized measures of language. Yet, the cause of poor performance for the groups is considered quite different, limited experiences and/or test bias as compared to faulty language systems. Further complicating the research is the fact that children from low-income backgrounds often speak a nonmainstream dialect. The goal of the current work is to address these issues by differentiating the language profiles of children from low-income backgrounds and those diagnosed with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) in narrowly defined groups. To accomplish this, we evaluate past tense marking in three groups of African American English (AAE)-speaking children: 5-year old children from low-income backgrounds, their typically developing age-matched peers from middle income backgrounds, and their typically developing language-matched peers from middle income backgrounds. Our data demonstrate that AAE-speaking children from low-income backgrounds have relative strengths in morphosyntax when compared to vocabulary (Pruitt & Oetting, 2009; Pruitt, Oetting, & Hegarty, 2011). We seek to further explore these findings by examining the effects of SES levels (mid and low) and the clinical condition of SLI within another sample of AAE-speaking children. The outcomes will be discussed as they contribute to advances in our understanding of individual variation in morphosyntactic competencies across language profiles.