Prof. Rhea Paul
In residence at
Prof. Sandrine Ferré
Integrating Clinical and Linguistic Perspectives in Developing a Tool for Identification of Child Language Disorders
This project includse the expansion of a research collaboration with Dr. Sandrine Ferré of Université de Tours. Dr. Ferré’s recent work focuses on the development of a tool that can, through the use of a simple nonsense word repetition task (e.g,, “Say, /plutik/”), identify children at risk for language disorders, regardless of their first language. A large body of previous work has shown that the ability to accurately repeat nonsense words, which is an index of the phonological coding skills that are intricately connected to language learning, reliably identifies monolingual English speaking children with language disorders. However, most standard nonsense word repetition (NWR) tasks are based on English sound-structure rules, and thus are not reliable for children who speak other languages. The proposal aims to develop a language-free NWR test that would be reliable regardless of the language or languages spoken by the child. The development of such a tool would enable the early and accurate identification of children who are experiencing difficulties in acquiring language, even in situations where the local language is not their mother tongue. With children entering schools from so many linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds, such a tool will be invaluable in identifying those who will need intervention in order to succeed in the heavily language-based curriculum of the school setting. This aim will be accomplished through collaborative analyses of data already collected from children with typical development, and the collection of data from children with a range of developmental disorders.
A second objective is to work with students at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral levels at Université de Tours who are engaged at its Autism Research unit, and to share my research, grant-writing, and publication experience with them. This will be accomplished through guest lectures in courses, regularly scheduled small group and individual meetings with Master’s, Doctoral, and Post-doctoral students in the unit.