Purpose: This study investigated the expressive elaboration of narratives from children with specific language impairment (SLI).
Method: Forty-eight 6- and 8-year-old children with SLI were compared with forty-eight 6- and 8-year-old typical language (TL) children. Two imaginative narratives were scored for 14 elements of expressive elaboration in 3 categories. A subset of simple elements was analyzed separately. The effect of adult models and context was also considered.
Results: Children with SLI (whether 6 or 8 years of age) and younger TL children produced stories with significantly fewer appendages (e.g., Abstract, Coda), orientations (e.g., name, personality feature), and evaluations (e.g., interesting modifier, dialogue) than older TL children. The children with SLI and younger children showed significantly poorer performance even on simple elements such as character names and repetition (He ran and ran). Children with SLI, although performing lower than their TL age peers, demonstrated improvements from the 1st to the 2nd fictional story. Children with SLI were not differentially affected by the adult models.
Conclusion: This study shows that expressive elaboration of narratives is sensitive to age- and language-level differences. The results suggest that children with SLI need guidance on artful storytelling, even for simple story elements.