LINGUIST List 12.1758

Fri Jul 6 2001

Review: McCauley, Lg Disorders in Childhood

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  1. Phaedra Royle, Book review: McCauley, Assessment of Language Disorders in Childhood

Message 1: Book review: McCauley, Assessment of Language Disorders in Childhood

Date: Fri, 06 Jul 2001 10:35:59 -0400
From: Phaedra Royle <phaedra.royleUMontreal.CA>
Subject: Book review: McCauley, Assessment of Language Disorders in Childhood

McCauley, Rebecca J. (2001) Assessment of Language Disorders in Childhood.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, ISBN: 0-8058-2562-2, xiv+364 pp.

Phaedra Royle, Department of Linguistics, Universit� de Montr�al

Chapter 1: Introduction
	This chapter outlines the goals of the text and methodologies used
throughout it. McCauley states that the aim of this book is to familiarize
students and researchers with the measurements used in order to assess language
disorders; to teach them how to frame clinical questions in measurement terms;
to show them alternative measurement approaches and to make them able to
discriminate the relative merits of these different approaches. McCauley
presents examples of different types of clinical decisions that must be taken
during the treatment of language disorders and reminds us of the importance of
successful decision-making by presenting us with two examples of common
pitfalls in decision-making: the confirmatory strategy and the belief that
small samples are linguistically representative.

Part I: Basic concepts in assessment, presents the tools used for language
assessment and the theoretical background underpinning their use.
Chapter 2: Measurement of children's communication and related skills.
	In Chapter 2, McCauley discusses the theoretical concepts that underlie
the measurement of language abilities. She presents Stevens' four levels of
measurement (1951): nominal, ordinal interval and ratio and the use of and
implications for the use of these types of measurement of communication skills.
Statistical methods used to analyse central tendencies and variability in these
measurements are also presented. In a discussion of correlation, McCauley
points out that correlation and causality do not follow from each other because
correlation can be the result of A causing B, vice versa or by both A and B
being caused by an external factor. Finally, the author discusses the
difference between norm- and criterion-referenced measures in establishing
deviant behaviour.
Chapter 3: Validity and reliability
	In this chapter, McCauley discussed the importance of choosing
appropriate measurement tools for language evaluation and stresses that the
tester is responsible for the choice and validation of the tool used. The
author presents three types of evidence used for validation: construct
validity, content validity and criterion-related validation. McCauley proposes
different methods typically used in these validation processes. She discusses
the concepts of validity and reliability and reminds us that reliability
(consistency of measurement) is a necessary though not sufficient condition for

Part II: an overview of childhood language disorders, presents the etiology of
different types of language disorders and problems related to language
assessment within each of the four following types of disorders.
Chapter 5: Children with specific language impairment
	McCauley commences this chapter on specific language impairment (or
SLI) by discussing the problem of the definition of SLI using exclusionary
criteria (where no specific cause can be determined as the cause of the
linguistic deficit). In particular, the exclusion of children with mental
retardation from the SLI group due to lowered IQ is problematic. She outlines
different suspected causes for the impairment (genetics, brain morphology,
environmental factors) and different accounts (cognitive, linguistic, ...) of
SLI. Assessment of SLI is rendered more difficult due to lack of consensus by
researchers on diagnostic methods and also to lack of communication between
this group and clinicians in order to improve assessment based on theoretical
findings. McCauley notes that SLI is often indistinguishable from late onset of
language in young children. Children with SLI typically have difficulties with
(English) morphology, syntax and phonology.
Chapter 6: Children with mental retardation
	This chapter addresses the effects of mental retardation on language.
Not surprisingly, different types of mental retardation (and their level of
severity) have varying effects on language. For example, down syndrome can
affect morphology and syntax while preserving semantics and pragmatics.
McCauley stresses here the importance of assessment of language skills. She
notes that it is important to accommodate the child with mental retardation, if
needed -- rather than to stick to a rigid assessment method -- in order to
fully reveal her linguistic capacity.
Chapter 7: Children with autistic spectrum disorder
	McCauley notes that autistic spectrum disorder (or pervasive
developmental disorder, PDD) is a generic term for four more specific types of
autistic disorder (autistic disorder, Rett's disorder, childhood disintegrative
disorder, Asperger's disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not
otherwise specified, or PDD-NOS). As with mental retardation, these different
disorders typically pattern with different types and levels of language
impairment, from no or almost no language impairment (Asperger's) to limited or
no language skills (Rett's). This heterogeneity, often combined with mental
retardation and difficult social interaction on the part of children with PDD,
can make diagnosis of the language impairment using standardised tasks
Chapter 8: Children with hearing impairment
	This chapter deals with the assessment of children with permanent
hearing loss ranging from mild to profound. Different types of deafness are
described (conductive, sensorineural and mixed) as well as other factors
affecting treatment such as the configuration of deafness (flat, high-
frequency, low-frequency), laterality of deafness (bilateral or unilateral) and
age of onset of deafness (acquired versus congenital deafness). This chapter
also discusses issues of teaching oral languages to deaf children, oral versus
signed culture and the oral versus signed assessment of language in deaf
children. McCauley also mentions the relative lack of norms for the assessment
of language development in deaf children, whether the norms are for oral or for
signed language.

Part III: Clinical questions driving assessment deals with the clinical
practices of screening, description and evaluation of language change
Chapter 9: Screening and identification: Does this child have a language
	In this chapter, a more thorough review of language screening
procedures is presented along with a discussion of issues such as over-
referral, cutoff scores, the comparison of scores across tests (which can have
different levels of test error and correlation as well as different norming
groups), and the rarity of some types of language disorders. Dialect use and
use of English as a second language in conjunction with their implications for
language testing are also discussed. Finally, the expanding use of parent
questionnaires and language analyses (criterion- referenced measures) is
discussed as an alternative to classic norm-referenced tests.
Chapter 10: Description: What is the nature of this chid's language?
	This chapter presents the use of descriptive measures of language and
methods used to do this type of assessment (standardized norm-referenced
measures, standardized criterion- referenced measures, probes, rating scales,
language analysis, on-line observations, dynamic assessment and other
qualitative measures). This type of assessment has implications for the social
communicative and educational integration of children with language impairments.
Chapter 11: Examining change: Is this child's language changing?
	The examination of language change is an integral part of the treatment
process and affects decisions on whether to continue, modify or terminate
treatment. This type of assessment can also be used to verify the efficacity of
given treatments. Effect size, social validation and the use of multiple
measures are three methods used to verify whether language change is reliable
and has an impact on the child's life. The major difficulty arising in this
type of assessment is the confounding factor of growth and development.
McCauley proposes the single-subject experimental design paradigm as the most
effective means for examination of language change.

	This book is primarily designed as a textbook for a course in speech
pathology with an emphasis of testing methodology. However, a number of
chapters of this book can be useful to clinicians and researchers wanting to
read up on issues pertaining to assessment methodology. They will find the
discussions of issues related to assessment to be in depth and challenging. In
particular, assumptions underlying the validity and reliability of language
assessment are well put in perspective by McCauley. As a linguist with only a
basic knowledge of statistical methodology, I especially appreciated the
chapter on measurement due to its discussion of statistical concepts used in
describing language performance. Each chapter stands on its own and contains a
list of key concepts and terms, "study questions and questions to expand your
thinking", recommended readings pertaining to the topics addressed in the
chapter and a bibliography. In addition, this monograph has appendices and a
number of lists within the text outlining different tests used for language
assessment in the United States.

Stevens, S. S. (1951) Mathematics, measurement and psychophysics. In S. S.
Stevens (Ed.) Handbook of experimental psychology (pp.1-49). New York: Wiley.

Phaedra Royle is a Ph.D. graduate from the D�partement de linguistique et de
traduction of the Universit� de Montr�al. Her thesis was a psycholinguistic
examination of word access in francophones with developmental language
impairment. She presently works as an assistant researcher for the Bilingual
Canadian Dictionary Project at the D�partement de linguistique et de traduction
of the Universit� de Montr�al.
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