V. 59 N. 1 (2021)

Narrative abilities of Italian preschool children with Developmental Language Disorder: a post-treatment quantitative analysis

Francesca Beraldi
Università degli Studi di Firenze
Gloria Gagliardi
Università degli Studi di Napoli "L'Orientale"
Milvia Innocenti
Università degli Studi di Firenze AUSL Toscana Centro

Pubblicato 2021-07-29

Parole chiave

  • Developmental Language Disorder (DLD),
  • preschooler,
  • oral narrative skills


Oral narrative skills have been shown to be a valid measure of the linguistic competence of preschoolers and a significant predictor of their academic achievements. A deficiency in this area can lead to long-term sequelae in socio-emotional well-being in their adult life. This paper aims to provide a complete communicative picture of narrative discourse produced by monolingual preschoolers with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) and typical peers matched by age, taking into account around fifty verbal and non-verbal features, computed on the spoken productions elicited by retelling tasks. The main finding is that although traditional standardized neuropsychological tests fail in capturing communicative deficits of DLD children, subtle but persistent language production difficulties are demonstrated by speech disruptions, reduced syntax complexity, and overt gestural signs of discomfort. This last finding is quite intriguing, considering that self- and hetero-adaptor gestures result from uneasiness and anxiety, usually escaping awareness. Taken together, the present results suggest that the observed deficits in DLD are not exclusively linguistic in nature, but may be associated with deficient planning abilities and monitoring processes difficulties.

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