Visual–motor integration performance in children with severe specific language impairment

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Abstract

Background

This study investigated (1) the visual–motor integration (VMI) performance of children with severe specific language impairment (SLI), and any effect of age, gender, socio-economic status and concomitant speech impairment; and (2) the relationship between language and VMI performance. It is hypothesized that children with severe SLI would present with VMI problems irrespective of gender and socio-economic status; however, VMI deficits will be more pronounced in younger children and those with concomitant speech impairment. Furthermore, it is hypothesized that there will be a relationship between VMI and language performance, particularly in receptive scores.

Methods

Children enrolled between 2000 and 2008 in a school dedicated to children with severe speech-language impairments were included, if they met the criteria for severe SLI with or without concomitant speech impairment which was verified by a government organization. Results from all initial standardized language and VMI assessments found during a retrospective review of chart files were included.

Results

The final study group included 100 children (males = 76), from 4 to 14 years of age with mean language scores at least 2SD below the mean. For VMI performance, 52% of the children scored below −1SD, with 25% of the total group scoring more than 1.5SD below the mean. Age, gender and the addition of a speech impairment did not impact on VMI performance; however, children living in disadvantaged suburbs scored significantly better than children residing in advantaged suburbs. Receptive language scores of the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals was the only score associated with and able to predict VMI performance.

Conclusions

A small subgroup of children with severe SLI will also have poor VMI skills. The best predictor of poor VMI is receptive language scores on the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals. Children with poor receptive language performance may benefit from VMI assessment and multidisciplinary management.

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