And more

  • Remember the Index of Productive Syntax (IPSyn) from grad school? Altenberg et al. modified the instructions to make them a little clearer and reminded us that IPSyn is great for describing toddlers’ and preschoolers’ grammatical development. See their updated instructions in the article Appendix and consider giving IPSyn another shot. (NOTE: If you’ve never heard of this thing before, it’s a way to measure syntax production in young children.)


  • It seems that we’re always looking for a quicker, easier way to quantify our young clients’ language skills and progress in therapy. This study looked at whether the automated language analysis system, LENA (Language Environment Analysis), a device that’s worn around the child’s neck, could provide a reliable measure of rate of vocalizations during short recording sessions. Results suggested that human transcribers were able to capture more reliable rates of child vocalizations when the recording was 25 minutes or less. So, although the LENA seems to be a useful tool for longer recordings, findings from this study suggest that when transcribing and analyzing short language samples, it’s best to stick to doing it the old-fashioned way—by hand.


  • Sharabi et al. found that mothers of children with ASD tend to be more involved in their child’s care, especially when they felt they had informal support from family and friends. Fathers with higher education levels tended to be more involved with their child’s care, especially single fathers.


Altenberg, E. P., Roberts, J. A., & Scarborough, H. S. (2018). Young children's structure production: A revision of the Index of Productive Syntax. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1044/2018_LSHSS-17-0092.

Bredin-Oja, H., Fleming, K., & Warren, S. (2018). Clinician vs. machine: Estimating vocalization rates in young children with developmental disorders. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 27, 1066–1072.

Sharabi, A., & Marom-Golan, D. (2018). Social support, education level, and parent’s involvement: A comparison between mothers and fathers of children with autism spectrum disorder. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/0271121418762511

Perspectives & Tutorials

Sentence diversity in early language development: Recommendations for target selection and progress monitoring

Recall that we don’t review Perspectives, Tutorials, or Opinion pieces. Only empirical research. Technically, these tutorials are lower evidence. But, here’s the tough thing: they’re often very clinically useful, and based upon high-quality empirical research! So what’s an Informed SLP to do?

We’ll tell you when we come across these papers, and if there’s a lot to say, we’ll discuss it on our Evidence Answers page. This article (above) is one such situation. Read more here.

A History of EI/ECSE in the United States: A Personal Perspective

This is a really fantastic perspective on the history of Early Intervention and where we should go next. A must read for anyone making decisions for Early Intervention programs!

Throwback Pub (2014): Telegraphic or grammatically complete prompts—which is best?

“Dog sitting.”  or “The dog is sitting.”

Which would you choose to use as a model in therapy for a language delayed toddler?

If you said the first sentence, you’re not alone. The common assumption among many pediatric SLPs and parents of young children is that short phrases with the grammar removed—aka: “telegraphic utterances”—are a better choice for young kids because they make it easier for them to understand and imitate. And, popular, research-based treatment programs like Enhanced Milieu Teaching (Hancock & Kaiser, 2006) include telegraphic prompts, so they have to be good, right?

But, here’s the problem: previous research has actually shown just the opposite (e.g., van Kleeck et al., 2010). And, in fact, some studies have shown that when young kids don’t hear grammatically complete models, they begin to assume that those telegraphic utterances are the rule (e.g., Leonard & Deevy, 2011), and then have trouble using them in spontaneous productions (e.g., Theakston, Lieven, & Tomasello, 2003).

So, what’s an SLP to do?

That’s where this study comes in. Because we know that hearing correct syntax and morphology is important, and particularly for young kids with language impairments, Bredin-Oja and Fey wanted to find out what happens when models for imitation are grammatically complete. Can young kids with expressive delays still imitate them? And, how does that compare to their ability to imitate telegraphic models?


Five 2-, 3-, and 4-year-olds with expressive language delays participated in 14 play-based therapy sessions. Seven of the sessions involved grammatically complete prompts (“The boy is jumping”), and seven included telegraphic models (“Boy jumping”). Results show that all five of the kids responded just as reliably to grammatically complete prompts to imitate as they did to telegraphic. And, three* of the five kids included morphemes in their imitated utterances only following a grammatically correct model.

This small study has big implications when it comes to the models that we provide in therapy, and also how we teach parents to talk to their young kids. Put simply, the message has to be simplified, but not at the expense of accuracy when it comes to grammar. The authors provide some helpful suggestions for how clinicians and parents can achieve this at the end of this article.

*Two of the kids didn’t produce the morphological markers at all, regardless of whether they were presented in a telegraphic or a grammatically complete utterance. The authors hypothesized that they were probably just not developmentally ready to produce those language forms, and that makes a lot of sense and aligns with previous research (e.g., Fey & Loeb, 2002). 


Bredin-Oja, S. L. & Fey, M. (2014). Children’s responses to telegraphic and grammatically complete prompts to imitate. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 23, 15 – 26.