Defining Prerequisites for Communicating

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Originally published in Contemporary Psychology: APA Review of Books, 1979, Vol 24(3), 243–245. Reviews the books, Language Without Speech by Ruth F. Deich and Patricia M. Hodges (see record 1979-13924-000); and A Transactional Approach to Early Language Training by James E. McLean and Lee K. Snyder-McLean (1978). These two books approach the atypical language development of the mentally retarded child from different theoretical perspectives and with different emphases for facilitating nascent capacities to use language for practical ends. The McLean and Snyder-McLean volume reports the results of a two-year, federally funded project to develop a model of natural language acquisition. The volume by Deich and Hodges is flawed by numerous technical errors, misinterpretations of factual information, and a highly questionable learning-theory explanation of language acquisition as the establishment of complex connections between classes of events. Both books also exemplify the serious research problems encountered in gathering meaningful data on language acquisition and measuring effectiveness of particular intervention approaches from atypical populations who are often etiologically heterogeneous. Both books raise issues in need of further empirical documentation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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