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Language Intervention: Computer Training for Young Children with Special Needs

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Three studies that explore the usefulness and effectiveness of computers for training language skills of young children with communication disabilities are reviewed. A study of eight toddlers with Down syndrome compared traditional individual language intervention with computer-based instruction for developing comprehension of vocabulary and early grammatical patterns over a period of three months. Both approaches showed a similar, highly significant effect, indicating that computer-based intervention was as successful as traditional one-to-one language therapy.

A second study used 52 children (ages 4–10) who were enrolled in special education classes for children with severe language, learning and behavioral disabilities. The effectiveness of adding twice a week, 30-minute interactive computer language training sessions to the regular classsroom language curriculum was examined. Children showed significantly more progress in vocabulary, general language ability and social communication during the 10 week period they were receiving the computer training.

Lastly, the effectiveness of using a parent volunteer to work with toddlers on computer-based language tasks was compared with language progress when these children worked with a professional speech language pathologist. Four out of five of the children showed more progress when working with the parent volunteer.

The article concludes with a discussion of educational considerations for planning computer-based language intervention and includes a sample language lesson for the computer as well as software evaluation guidelines.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, PO Box 90, Nashville, TN 37203, USA, 2: California State University, Los Angeles

Publication date: 1997-10-01

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