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J Speech Hear Res. 1994 Apr;37(2):358-68.

The counting abilities of children with specific language impairment: a comparison of oral and gestural tasks.

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Indiana University, Bloomington.


This study examined the counting abilities of preschool children with specific language impairment compared to language-matched and mental-age-matched peers. In order to determine the nature of the difficulties SLI children exhibited in counting, the subjects participated in a series of oral counting tasks and a series of gestural tasks that used an invented counting system based on pointing to body parts. Despite demonstrating knowledge of many of the rules associated with counting, SLI preschool children displayed marked difficulty in counting objects. On oral counting tasks, they showed difficulty with rote counting, displayed a limited repertoire of number terms, and miscounted sets of objects. However, on gestural counting tasks, SLI children's performance was significantly better. These findings suggest that SLI children have a specific difficulty with the rote sequential aspect of learning number words.

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