Psycholinguistic and related functions in ten children in a class for the emotionally disturbed

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The purpose of this study was to assess the linguistic, visual perceptual, and. laterality functions for ten children with communication disorders enrolled, in a special class for the emotionally disturbed. Specifically, it was hypothesized, for the purpose of inquiry, that the test results of the ten emotionally disturbed, children with communication problems evaluated in this study would show no atypical pattern of linguistic-perceptual abilities when compared with test results on the normal population used in the standardization of each test. The findings on this particular group of children were also compared with test results on other groups of children with language problems. Finally, the writer attempted to determine if the test data obtained on the children provided information which could serve to structure educational and therapy programs to meet the specific linguistic-perceptual needs of this group. The ten children ranged in age from nine years, nine months to fifteen years and in IQ from 80 to 99 with a mean IQ of 90. Each subject met the following criteria- 1. diagnosed as emotionally disturbed by a psychiatrist 2. evidenced language disorders, both oral and written 3. had dull-normal to normal intelligence (Stanford-Binet and/or WISE) 4. had normal auditory and visual acuity 5. revealed no physical abnormalities. All ten were assessed by the writer using these measuring instruments- Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test, Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Abilities, Frostig"s Developmental Test of Visual Perception, Wepman"s Auditory Discrimination Test, Selected tests of laterality from Leavell. The analysis of the data supported the folloving conclusions- 1. On the ITPA, no two individual profiles showed, a characteristic pattern, modality by modality, of abilities and disabilities. However, considering the wider scope of functioning at levels as Kirk and McCarthy (33) define them, more deficiencies were noted at the integrational level which tested the ability to remember for recall in sequential order what had been heard or seen than at the representational level which tested the ability in the meaningful manipulation of language symbols. The group was generally deficient in all areas; while all ten exceeded, the age limits of the test, no child scored above the 9-year norms on all subtests. 2. The individual test profile, which reflects the level at which modalities of input and output are working and the level at which integration takes place, could be a useful tool in the planning of a remedial teaching program. Each child"s language training program should be based on his specific readiness in terms of the function of language which it has been possible for him to acquire. His training should start at the level at which he is now functioning in each of the deficient skills. With this in mind, suggestions for therapy were included in this thesis. From the results of all five tests, it appeared that as a group, these ten children enrolled in a class for the emotionally disturbed tended to have certain basic problems- 1. difficulty in using the structure of language automatically. 2. general inability to reproduce a series of symbols presented either auditorially or visually. 3. deficiencies in the ability to express ideas verbally and to understand and draw relationships from what is seen. According to Corrine Kass (29), it appears that when severe disabilities affect integrational level operations to a marked degree, there will be some attendant disability in the ability to handle verbal symbols meaningfully. 4. perceptual difficulties, especially in the ability to perceive the position of two or more objects in relation to themselves and in relation to each other; to perceive an object as possessing invariant properties, such as shape, position, and size, in spite of the variability of the impression on the sensory surface; and to perceive the figure in relation to its background. 5. difficulty in distinguishing auditorially between two words which differ from each other in only one phonemic element. 6. mixed laterality. A limitation of this study is provided by the small number of cases. For this reason, caution should be used in indiscriminate generalization from the results. Further research into detailed diagnostic procedures is indicated. The field of special services in the schools is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of differences in the level of developmental skills within the individual child. Sometimes these differences are more important for educational planning than perceived differences between children.