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Comprehension of idioms in adolescents with language-based learning disabilities compared to their typically developing peers

, : Comprehension of idioms in adolescents with language-based learning disabilities compared to their typically developing peers. Journal of Communication Disorders 37(4): 295-311

Adolescents with language-based learning disabilities (LBLD) often interpret idioms literally. When idioms are provided in an enriched context, comprehension is compromised further because of the LBLD student's inability to assign multiple meanings to words, assemble and integrate information, and go beyond a local referent to derive a global, coherent meaning. This study tested the effects of context and familiarity on comprehension of 24 idioms in 22 adolescents with LBLD. The students completed the Idiom Comprehension Test (ICT) (Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools 30 (1999) 141; LSHSS 34 (2003) 69) in one of two conditions: in a story or during a verification task. Within each condition were three familiarity levels: high, moderate, and low. The LBLD adolescents' data were then compared to previously collected data from 21 age-, gender-, and reading ability-matched typically developing (TD) peers. The relations between reading and language literacy and idiom comprehension were also examined in the LBLD adolescents. Results showed that: (a) the LBLD adolescents generally performed poorly relative to their TD counterparts; however, the groups performed comparably on the high and moderate familiarity idioms in the verification condition; (b) the LBLD adolescents performed significantly better in the verification condition than in the story condition; and (c) reading ability was associated with comprehension of the low familiarity idioms in the story condition only. Findings are discussed relative to implications for speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and educators working with adolescents with LBLD. Learning outcomes: As a result of this activity, the participant will be able to (1) describe the importance of metalinguistic maturity for comprehension of idioms and other figures of speech; (2) understand the roles of context and familiarity when assessing idiom comprehension in adolescents with LBLD; and (3) critically evaluate assessments of idiom comprehension and determine their appropriateness for use with adolescents with LBLD.


PMID: 15159191

DOI: 10.1016/j.jcomdis.2003.12.001

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