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Am J Speech Lang Pathol. 2008 May;17(2):194-206. doi: 10.1044/1058-0360(2008/019).

Comparison of personal versus fictional narratives of children with language impairment.

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Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts Lowell, 870 Broadway Street, Suite 1, Lowell, MA 01854, USA.



Personal narratives are common in children's conversations, recommended as the appropriate genre for early writing by educators, and part of many high-stakes tests, possibly because they tend to be better formed than fictional narratives. However, current practice in the field of speech-language pathology employs fictional narratives in assessment, intervention, and study of children with impaired language development. This article explored performance on personal versus fictional narratives by children with language impairment (LI), hypothesizing that performance on the former would be better and a minimal relationship between performances in the 2 genres.


Twenty-seven children age 7;0-9;9 (years;months) with LI orally produced personal and fictional narratives (responses to a wordless picture book). Narratives were analyzed by raters blind to experimental hypotheses using high-point analysis and an analysis derived from scoring of a high-stakes composition for 4th grade.


High-point ratings of personal significantly exceeded those of fictional narratives. Disproportionate fictional stories did not meet minimal narrative criteria. However, more personal narratives than would be expected by chance did. The analyses were significantly correlated. Quality of a child's performance of personal was minimally related to that of fictional narratives.


Clinicians may want to consider functional aspects of personal narratives.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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