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Title: A study of idiom comprehension in children with semantic-pragmatic difficulties
Author: Kerbel, Debra
ISNI:       0000 0001 3597 5252
Awarding Body: De Montfort University
Current Institution: De Montfort University
Date of Award: 1996
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In the light of inconclusive evidence regarding the comprehension of idioms by children with semantic-pragmatic difficulties, this study aimed to investigate the extent to which difficulty with idiom comprehension was characteristic of a group of primary school children considered to have semantic-pragmatic difficulties. It further aimed to explore whether such difficulty constitutes a valid means of discriminating children diagnosed as having "semantic-pragmatic disorder", Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism, from children considered to have language disorders not primarily of a semantic and/or pragmatic type. It also compared these two groups with normallydeveloping children aged 6; 6 to 7; 6 or 10; 6 to 11; 6. In view of the limitations of available procedures for assessing idiom comprehension in children with semantic-pragmatic difficulties, a new play-based methodology was developed for this study. Supplementary information was obtained from an additional definition task and from a symptom checklist. The results indicate that the children with semantic-pragmatic difficulties did, as a group, demonstrate significantly fewer appropriate idiomatic interpretations and significantly more inappropriate interpretations than did any of the other three groups. However, the higher level of inappropriate scores reflected a larger number of "fuzzy" responses rather than significantly higher rates of literality. Despite relative weakness, the children with semantic-pragmatic difficulties displayed appropriate interpretations considerably more often than they evidenced inappropriate ones. Within-group analysis reveals that the children diagnosed with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism performed less well than did those diagnosed with "semantic-pragmatic disorder". Nevertheless, both of these subgroups encompassed a considerable range of comprehension ability. This variation appears to reflect essential differences in the critical semantic and pragmatic skills underpinning idiom comprehension. In combination with definition task data and broader knowledge of particular children, the play task may be used to identify the sites and sources of idiom comprehension breakdown in individual children.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: 150 ; Psychology