Oral and Written Discourse Skills in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children: The Role of Reading and Verbal Working Memory : Topics in Language Disorders

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Oral and Written Discourse Skills in Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children

The Role of Reading and Verbal Working Memory

Arfé, Barbara

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Topics in Language Disorders 35(2):p 180-197, April/June 2015. | DOI: 10.1097/TLD.0000000000000054


This study examined the discourse skills of deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children by comparing their oral and written narratives produced for the wordless picture book, Frog, Where Are You? (Mayer, 1969), with those of school-age-matched hearing peers. The written stories produced by 42 Italian 7- to 15-year-old children with moderate to profound hearing loss were compared with those of 48 school-age-matched hearing controls (age range = 7–13 years). The amount of linguistic information produced, measured as the number of words and clauses produced, the ability to generate a narrative structure, and coherence relations between the clauses of the story were investigated. The contribution of age, reading skills, and verbal working memory (measured as forward and backward digit span scores) were investigated relative to DHH children's ability to produce connected discourse in oral and written modalities. Deaf and hard of hearing children showed poorer discourse skills in oral and written narration; however, their disadvantage appeared to be greater in the written modality. Reading comprehension skills accounted for significant variance in DHH children's ability to generate narrative discourse. Yet, forward digit span scores, representing verbal rehearsal skills, contributed uniquely to the coherence of their narratives once age and reading comprehension were controlled. The contribution was greater in the written modality, suggesting that DHH children's greater disadvantage in this modality was related to the greater cognitive costs of the writing task.

Copyright © 2015 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.

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