The language of children with spina bifida and hydrocephalus: meeting task demands and mastering syntax

K. Byrne, Leonard J Abbeduto, P. Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Children with hydrocephalus are thought to exhibit deficiencies in their linguistic performance, including the production of numerous off-topic utterances and semantically immature responses to linguistically posed problems (e.g., questions, word definitions). The hydrocephalic children included in many previous studies, however, have been mentally retarded. We sought to determine whether these language problems also characterized intellectually average children with hydrocephalus. A second purpose was to evaluate the hypothesis that the language problems of hydrocephalic children occur predominantly on tasks with high cognitive or linguistic demands. A third purpose was to reexamine the claim that despite their semantic-pragmatic deficiencies, the syntax of hydrocephalic children is age appropriate. Our hydrocephalic subjects dealt with the semantic-pragmatic requirements of linguistically posed problems in an age-appropriate manner, and although their performance on these problems declined as task demands increased, the decline was no more than that seen for nondisabled age-matches. The hydrocephalic children did not differ significantly from nondisabled age-matches on measures of productive syntactic maturity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)118-123
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Speech and Hearing Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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