Journal Article

Hand-writing processes when spelling morphologically complex words in children with and without Developmental Language Disorder


Introduction: Representations activated during hand-writing production code information on morphological structure and reflect decomposition of the root and suffix. Children with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) have significant difficulties in spelling morphologically complex words, but previous research has not sought evidence for a morphological decomposition effect via an examination of hand-writing processes in this population. Method: Thirty-three children aged 9-10 years with DLD, 33 children matched for chronological age (CA), and 33 younger children aged 7-8 years matched for oral language ability (LA) completed a dictated spelling task (21 words; 12 with inflectional suffixes, nine with derivational suffixes). The task was completed on paper with an inking pen linked to a graphics tablet running the hand-writing software Eye and Pen. Pause analyses and letter duration analyses were conducted. Results: The three groups showed similar hand-writing processes, evidencing a morphological decomposition effect in a natural writing task. Pause durations observed at the root/suffix boundary were significantly longer than those occurring in the root. Letter durations were also significantly longer for the letter immediately prior to the boundary compared to the letter after it. Nevertheless, despite being commensurate to their LA matches for mean pause durations and letter durations, children with DLD were significantly poorer at spelling derivational morphemes. Hand-writing processes did significantly predict spelling accuracy but to a much lesser extent compared to reading ability. Discussion: It is suggested that derivational spelling difficulties in DLD may derive more from problems with underspecified orthographic representations as opposed to hand-writing processing differences.

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Critten, Sarah
Connelly, Vincent
Dockrell, Julie E.
Mundy, Ian
O'Rourke, Lynsey
Callaghan, Laura
Walter, Kirsty

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Psychology, Health and Professional Development


Year of publication: 2023
Date of RADAR deposit: 2023-05-19

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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