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Narrative Discourse Intervention for School-Aged Children With Language Impairment

Supporting Knowledge in Language and Literacy

Gillam, Sandra Laing; Gillam, Ronald B.

doi: 10.1097/TLD.0000000000000081
Original Articles

Narrative language proficiency is a critical contributor to academic success for school-aged students. This article presents a narrative language intervention, Supporting Knowledge in Language and Literacy (SKILL), that is based on research in the fields of developmental psycholinguistics and discourse processing. SKILL was designed to provide school-age children with language learning difficulties with the cognitive and linguistic skills that underlie narrative comprehension and composition. A comprehensive description of the intervention program is presented first, followed by a summary of the qualitative and quantitative evidence supporting its use. Quantitative results from summarized studies show that SKILL is associated with consistently moderate to large effect sizes for improving narrative proficiency, ranging from 0.66 to 2.54 for students with language learning difficulties aged 5–11 years, and from 1.63 to 5.11 for students with autism spectrum disorders aged 8–12 years. Narrative intervention has the potential to have lasting effects that generalize to new stories and new story comprehension and production contexts (such as reading and writing) if children attain the critical cognitive and linguistic skills that support narration.

Language and Literacy Clinic, Utah State University, Logan.

Corresponding Author: Sandra Laing Gillam, PhD, Language and Literacy Clinic, Utah State University, 2610 Old Main, Logan, UT 84321 (

The program and research discussed in this article were supported in part by a grant from the Institute for Educational Sciences, National Center for Special Education Research (Award No. R324A100063).

The authors of this article disclose that they are authors of the SKILL program, which is described in this article, and for which they receive royalties from Utah State University. Ronald Gillam also is an author and receives royalties from sales of the Test of Narrative language, which was used as a research tool in the study described herein.

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