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Janice Greenberg, Program Director at The Hanen Centre (Toronto), presented a workshop on Hanen Programs, which are specialized therapeutic programs involving intensive education of groups of parents (whose children have language delays) or educators (who work with young children in educational settings). Hanen programs are based on the philosophy that children learn to communicate within the natural conversations of everyday life and that parents and educators are the child’s best language facilitators if they are taught to do this effectively.

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The Conference ”SLI – Specific Language Impairment – diagnosis, prognosis, intervention” was held  in Warsaw in Sofitel Victoria Hotel, Królewska 11 Street on 5-8 July 2012. 

 

The conference was an opportunity to:
- present the state of the art and the research on SLI,
- exchange information and specialist knowledge
- strengthen international cooperation


July 7th 2012 (day three)

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Lecture 1. Monika Pawłowska.
What’s in a language test? An overview of diagnostic language tests and measures


The opening Sunday lecture was given by professor Pawłowska. Her aim was to describe and assess language tests and other tools for diagnosis of language impairments. In order to conduct accurate diagnosis, speech and language therapists need to integrate information from various sources: diagnostic tools, parent and teacher reports and questionnaires, informal observation. Such a diagnosis is especially difficult for clinicians who are just starting their career. While working on a diagnosis, one should remember that the test results are jus one element of the diagnostic puzzle.  The easiest way to assess the child’s language development is to encourage him/her to free speech during play, conversation, narration. Unfortunately, such language samples are sensitive to the context, that is to the topic of conversation and to communication strategies of the adult. This makes this method difficult to standardize and the results often do not show the full range of the child’s language competencies. Ecological validity is then sacrificed. Such testing procedure does not resemble a natural conversation. In standardized tests there are tasks for testing vocabulary, such as pointing to pictures and pictures naming, defining and explaining words. Standardized tests are also used for assessing the knowledge of grammar, production of simple and complex sentences, awareness of grammatical rules. Tests differ in their scope: narrow tests target only a specific language component, whereas broad tests  may include all traditionally distinguished language domains and make it possible to calculate a global score for oral or written language. Tasks in every language tests have to be appropriate for the age and various skills of the child, and tests should be normalized.  
Specialists argue which standardized score on a test (within standard deviation) should allow for the diagnosis of impairment and also what is the number of measures that needs to be conducted in order to be able to diagnose accurately. Research conducted by Tomblin and colleagues show that the best criteria is the cutoff score of  1,25 SD below the mean, in practice however the norms functioning in various countries are set by the government administration and it is rarely the case when the scientific criteria coincide with the government ones.
A clinical marker for SLI is sought for. In the English literature there are a number of views: children with SLI tend to omit verb morphemes. However, this is not a universal marker for other languages. A more universal one may be one referring to processing and production: children with SLI normally perform poorer on nonword repetition, especially longer ones and on sentence repetition. This may be an indicator for a poor short-term auditory memory of children with SLI. Summing up, professor Pawłowska demonstrated that the test accuracy increases when clinical markers are used together or when additional diagnostic measures are introduced. She also stressed that it is the most important in diagnosis for the clinician to use reliable diagnostic criteria and set the cutoff scores appropriately. One should also consider the individual variation of language profiles of children with SLI.

 

 

Lecture 2. Nan Bernstein Ratner
Phonological and fluency characteristics of children with SLI


The topic of professor’s Ratner lecure was the phonological and fluency characteristics of late talkers and children with SLI. She described also the problem of common concomitant disorders in children and possible therapy plans.
Starting with the characteristics of phonology of late talkers, professor Ratner mentioned three features that are characteristic for children with the impairment: fewer vocalizations, more limited babble shapes and smaller phonemic inventory. She suggested that the mentioned features have limited ‘building blocks’ to form words, which is why many children have problems with that.
Moving to children with SLI, professor Ratner presented research showing that limited vocalization and phoneme inventory at the age of 2 can be an important predictor of the impairment. Such relationship was  also noticed for languages other than English (e.g. French).
Moving to other research, professor Ratner showed results which indicated that children with language impairment at the age of 2-3 have problems with the use of consonants, especially in the middle or in the end of the sentence. Also syllable repertoire is less varied. The speaker stressed that although at the age of 3 half of the children who had problems with phonology, managed to overcome it, the impairment persisted in 50% of the children.
Professor Ratner described the classical study of Schwartz and Leonard (1982) suggesting that children with SLI use selectively the words that they are able to pronounce and avoid the words which are problematic for them. She also stated that research conducted by her team allows to state that such relationship also occurs in late talkers – it is a serious problem because their limited phoneme inventory makes them use much fewer words than typically developing children. As a consequence, late talkers have limited chances to practice and acquire new vocabulary. On the basis of this research, professor Ratner stated that deficits in vocabulary in children may derive from phonological deficits. This has important practical implications for therapy programmes of language impairments – the therapists should focus on phonology of words that are useful for the child and practice their pronunciation with the child. Pronunciation of younger children should not be corrected, as they should practice labeling new objects and phenomena in a free form. It is important that the high-frequency words are selected for the therapy (it gives the child a chance to use them often) but also that they are distinguishable from other words (have low neighborhood density).
In the following part of the lecture, professor Ratner moved to the issued associated with fluency in children with speech delay and SLI. To provide an introduction, she focused on discrimination of the mentioned problems in children with language impairments and stuttering. She defined stuttering as blocks, prolongations of consonants, mid-word vocal breaks. These are multiple iterations (not just one or two) of repeated segments. Additionally,  stuttering nearly always is associated with awareness of the problem and hence with tension. It causes various negative consequences both for educational and social outcomes of the stuttering child. Tension and stress are not characteristic in children with SLI and speech delay, whose problems with fluency are less evident.
After having introduced this basic differentiation, professor Ratner presented study results that show that both young and older children with SLI have lower speech fluency in comparison to children with typical language development. She also stressed that difficulties with fluency in these children are much easier to treat than in children who stutter.
In the last part of her lecture, professor Ratner stressed that speech disorders are unfortunately often concomitant, e.g. problems with vocabulary size and sound articulation. She also stated that unfortunately there are no appropriate therapy programmes for children with multiple speech disorders. However, she presented a therapy programme called „cycling” as an interesting way of working with children with impairments. It consists in concentrating on 2-3 specific targets during a pre-determined number of session and in moving to the next cycle, no matter if the child has mastered the skills fully. The justification for introducing such method is the fact that children often show positive effects of delayed learning. During therapeutic session it may not be observed.
Summing up, professor Ratner stated that phonology problems can be red flags for risk of language delay and SLI.

 

 

Lecture 3. Philip Dale
What twin studies can tell us why  preschool language abilities predict later reading.


Professor Dale stated that early language abilities are an important risk factor for learning to read. He then moved to presenting a simplified view of  reading development. It consists of three stages: Word recognition (decoding), word reading fluency and reading comprehension. The speaker stressed the fact that achievements on each level are highly correlated – early language problems lead to later school problems in reading comprehension.
The speaker next summarized the basic assumptions of behavioral genetic research. He stressed that it gives possibilities that research on ”typical” groups do not provide, especially when it comes to separating genetic and environmental factors on human performance. It is also possible to study interactions and correlation of the two factors. He described two basic reasons which justify twin studies: the first one being almost identical influence of the environment on the variables that influence development on the studied trait, the second one – the assumption that results from twin studies can be generalized to the rest of population. According to professor Dale, both assumptions appear to be valid.  
After this introduction, professor Dale described the results obtained on a sample studies by his research team. The study included twins born in England and Wales in 1994, 1995 and 1996. Because of the large size of the sample, the study was conducted mainly via post, telephone and the Internet, but also a direct study of a chosen subsample of children was possible. Language outcomes proved to be  correlated with the ability to read at r=0,4. The researchers decided to study the correlations mentioned in a more detailed way. A study conducted on the sample of 800 children at the age of 4,5 with the use of numerous measures, both language measures and Reading measures, has show that correlation between language and reading have to a large extent genetic basis. However, environment also influences the relation of the two measures.  
The presented study brings further questions: Is the genetic factor in the relationship of early language to later literacy independent from the environment or dependent on it? Professor Dale presented study demonstrating that the latter is correct – parental education moderates genetic influence on reading ability. In case of high SES families, the influence of genes was significantly higher than the influence of environment and the reverse  was true for families with low SES – the influence of environment was prevailing. The speaker presented a model of genetic and environmental influence on development, in which development is bidirectionally related to the environment and genes influence, and genes influence both development and the environment.  
Summing up his lecture, professor Dale stressed the fact that reading is an evolutionarily recent  achievement and that its anomalous development can be caused by various reasons, both genetic and environmental. Twin studies can make it possible to discover these reasons.

 


Lecture 4. Shula Chiat and Penny J. Roy
The impact of socioeconomic disadvantage on young children’s  language.


At the beginning of her lecture, Professor Roy thanked for the invitation to the conference and stated that some issues she will be talking about had already been mentioned in previous lectures.  
The lecture was devoted to the relation between socio-economic conditions and child’s development. Whereas SLI is identified in ca. 7% of children, its prevalence is much more frequent in lower social classes. In Tomblin’s studies (1997), for instance, identification of SLI was  several per cent more frequent in Native Americans and African Americans (1997). The question arises, how to distinguish language disadvantage caused by limited experience of the child (which, according to the studies, is related to lower socioeconomic class) from Specific Language Impairment (SLI). In other words, what is the difference between language poverty and Specific Language Impairment? Another issue is the way the clinical instruments influence identification of  SLI incidence in various social classes.  
Professor Roy stressed that the notion of social class is a very broad one and that social class is constituted by parental education, parental profession, the child’s nutrition and the place of living. However, for language researchers the most important aspect is the quality and quantity of linguistic environment. Studies show that children from Professional families hear four times as many words as children form welfare families.
Hence, it is important to ask the question whether standard language tests are not socially bias. The tests rely on exposure to vocabulary, world and cultural knowledge as well as the ability to sustain attention and knowing, what is expected in test situation. Children form high to mid SES backgrounds perform Belter, probably due to richer experience in general test conditions, described above. That is why it should be considered whether core language tests that do not require various social-cognitive abilities would not be more appropriate for diagnosis of SLI.  Theses tests rely less on cultural knowledge, previous exposure to vocabulary and metalinguistic skills. In these types of core tasks it is worth to use word sentence tasks, nonword repetition or sentence repetition.  In this way, phonology and morphosyntax is tested with the limited influence of world knowledge.
Research on community sample with standard language tests has show that in the group of children with low SES there were more children with language impairments in comparison to mid-high SES (especially in receptive language.) About 70% of children with low SES did not have any major language problems, in comparison to 95% of mid-high SES. Comparing the language profiles of children with low SES, it has also been shown that they perform better than children from the clinical group (children with impairment diagnosed earlier). Similar effects were obtained for core tests (which are relatively independent from world knowledge).   
Professor Roy, summing up her lecture, stated that SES has effects on both core tests (which are independent from world knowledge) and standard tests.  Receptive language is more sensitive to   effects of socio-economic status, but it is important to consider developmental changes. Persistence of the impairments in children and the question whether the impairments be eliminated through intervention are crucial. Early intervention brings the most positive effects. Professor Roy finished her lecture thanking her coworkers, the children tested and their parents.

 

 

Lecture 5: Laurent Danon-Boileau (Université Paris Descartes, France),

How can we help a child acquire his/her mother tongue?


Prof Danon-Boileau started his lecture with a statement supported by a quotation from Aristotle’s works, saying that although science is based on generalizations, it is the individual that really matters. He declared that as a clinician guided in his work by this motto, he would not focus on statistics, but rather on his own experience in individual work with children with language impairments.
Prof Danon-Boileau made a distinction between the term used in France – ‘dysphasia’ and ‘Specific Language Impairment’. He suggested that SLI be treated as a mild form of dysphasia, reserving the other term for the impairment, in case of which children practically are not able to acquire language. Moreover, he introduced the concept of  ‘pervasive developmental disorders’ which include dysphasia. They are detrimental to many spheres of a child’s life, preventing communication and socialization. Additionally, Prof Danon-Boileau provided information about children he worked with – they were about two-three years old, came from the 13th arrondisement of Paris, and were referred to his clinic by a doctor or school. These children could not speak at all. After the introductory remarks, the lecturer described therapy methods which he used.
According to Professor Danon-Boileau, at least two appointments are necessary in order to reach any conclusions concerning the type and extent of a child’s impairment, since it is important that the therapist has an opportunity to observe the effects of the first appointment. He emphasized that while working with children who cannot speak, it is essential to focus on their abilities rather than inabilities. Professor Danon-Boileau also talked about the significance of a child’s symbolic play, uninterrupted by parents. He presented recordings showing the examples of a symbolic play of the dysphasic child.
Furthermore, the lecturer stressed the importance of drawing conclusions from the child’s sound production. This data may help to make a correct assessment. Children with expressive dysphasia often repeat one sound or syllable, whereas those with receptive dysphasia are characterized by continuous and melodious babble.
Summing up his lecture, Prof  Danon-Boileau gave specific instructions which, according to him, are crucial to successful therapy for children with dysphasia. Firstly, the child should learn a language with pleasure. Moreover, the process of learning should have a non-declarative form, since, as emphasized by the lecturer, mother tongue cannot be learned like a foreign language – probably ‘acquiring’ is more adequate term in such case. Secondly, the therapist should speak slowly and in a controlled way, which is adapted to the child’s abilities. Thirdly he/she should pay attention to the child’s posture (lying or sitting) and his/her position in relation to the patient (opposite to the therapis, next to the therapis), since the differences in the mentioned factors influence the conditions of the interaction between the therapist and the child. Closing his speech, professor Danon-Boileau stressed that the help for children who cannot speak should be aimed at putting them in the role of interlocutors and making them discover the pleasure of establishing relationships with other people.

 


Panel discussions


In the course of the morning lecture sessions, the participants of the conference were asked to submit questions to three discussion panels in the written form. Above 70 questions were received, most of them (half of them) concerning identification and assessment. In the course of the panel discussions, the panelists attempted to sum up the answers into the most important subjects of the questions.


Panel discussion 1: Identification and assessment


The first discussion panel was lead by Prof Leslie Rescorla. The list of panelists consisted of 12 people, academics and practitioners form Poland and abroad (Shula Chiat, Philip Dale, Esther Dromi, Ewa Haman, Grażyna Krasowicz-Kupis, Anita Lorenc, Agnieszka Maryniak, Olga Pelc-Pękala, Leslie Rescorla, Magdalena Smoczyńska, Elin Thordardottir).  
The subject of the first panel discussion was identification of children suspected of language impairment. The attention was paid to the necessity of identifying the impairment as early as possible. In order to achieve this aim, suitable diagnostic tools must be developed, which will make it possible to select children with language impairment from the general population and put them into early therapy. However, Prof Smoczyńska warned against rash assessment. She stated that in case of a two-year-old child it cannot be exactly determined if he/she SLI, since his/her further language development may continue normally and labeling is highly detrimental. At this point of the discussion, the important issue of distinguishing children with SLI form children with speech delay arose. Prof Smoczyńska expressed her belief that if language deficiency lasts up to the time when the child is around two and a half years old, SLI may be identified with a high degree of probability.
Furthemore, Prof Smoczyńska remarked that routine health checks for two and four-year-old children should include screening tests aimed at assessing language impairment and emphasized potential benefits of routine health checks for three-year-olds. Additionally, she stressed that the assessment must not be based solely on articulation abilities since children requiring therapy may produce correct speech patterns, having at the same time problems with language understanding and communication. Screening could be performed with the use of the existing, abridged version of McArthur-Bates CDI (polish adaptation: Inwentarz Rozwoju Mowy i Komunikacji), which although was developed (by professor Smoczyńska), has not been published. Moreover, the Polish adaptation of professor Leslie Rescorla’s screening tool could be developed as well.
The participants of the discussion agreed on the necessity of raising social awareness of SLI among other teams of experts: pediatricians or kindergarten supervisors. Prof Smoczyńska explicitly expressed the need of promoting the knowledge about language development problems among teachers and parents. People must not take a passive attitude on the issue saying: ‘it will pass’, ‘he is a boy so he can start speaking two years later’.
In the second part of the discussion, dedicated to pre-school children, the panelists stressed that while assessing children’s language skills, it must be remembered that the subject of the study is continually changing. Therefore, laboratory tests should be supported with the standardized tools which allow objective assessment of specific impairments. Unfortunately, in Poland, speech therapy tools are not standardized so that the individual results could be referred to the overall population.
Aneta Borkowska i Anita Lorens (expert practitioners) shared their knowledge of the tools they use and recommend. They admitted that they often combine available non-standardized methods in order to make assessment as accurate as possible. Once again during the Conference the attention was paid to the necessity of introducing standardized tests into clinical practice. Methods used in speech and language pathologists’ offices are often not characterized by common psychometric properties. Professor Elin Thordardottir demanded that translated English tests be not used and Polish results be not referred to foreign standards. The perfect solution would be to develop one’s own tools, even though it is undoubtedly a challenging and time-consuming task. Ewa Haman went as far as to assert  that ‘test development takes longer than language development’.
With reference to school-age children, Prof Agnieszka Maryniak shared her own experience gained in the Children’s Memorial Health Institute, where older children with language development problems (when other medical assessments are exluded) land in. Their stories show how the problems related to the school and community life accumulate as children grow. Prof Krasowicz-Kupis proposed that in case of school-age children SLI be assessed with the use of some tests included in the battery for assessing dyslexia, although it is not the perfect solution.

Furthermore, the participants of the discussion raised the subject of some speech-language pathologists restricting themselves to assessment and therapy of articulation, disregarding lexicon, syntax and pragmatics. It must be stressed that children with SLI may not have problems with pronunciation. The discussants agreed that the assessment should be interdisciplinary and engage experts in speech-language pathology, psychology and neurology. The hypothesis of SLI development may be put forward only after the extensive consultation. Many aspects of a child’s development must be assessed, since language development may be successfully examined only in that broad context.

 


Panel discussion 2: Prevention and intervention


The second discussion panel concerned the possibility of supporting children with SLI and their families. The discussion was lead by Professor Nan Bernstein Ratner. As  in the case of the first panel discussion, the list of panelists consisted of academics and practitioners from Poland and abroad (Grażyna Banach-Kociołek, Nan Berstein Ratner, Ewa Czaplewska, Laurent Danon-Boileau, Elżbieta Drewiniak-Wołosz, Aldona Mysakowska-Adamczyk, Marylin Nippold, Anna Paluch, Jolanta Panasiuk, Anna Rais, Penny Roy, Marina Zalewska).
The heated discussion of practitioners – speech and language pathologists and psychologists about the fundamental subject of the nature of language stirred many emotions.Jolanta Panasiuk indicated the necessity to define the nosology of SLI by identifying the causes, mechanisms symptoms and types of the impairment. This would make it possible to differentiate SLI from other pathologies in language development. While talking about neurophysiologic, neuropsychological and neurolinguistic mechanisms of impairments in SLI, dr Panasiuk pointed out two types of deficits: deficits in creating auditory and/or motor patterns for language structures. According to her, the identification of these mechanisms, which are the underlying causes of language impairments in SLI, is a necessary condition for selecting methods of language therapy that consists in language programming preceded by elimination of deficits within perceptual and/or motor abilities, respectively. Prof. Berstein-Ratner pointed that SLI should not be confused with dyspraxia. Prof Smoczyńska (speaking from the audience) remarked that the speech development is not only about the efficient auditory system and articulation, mind is the essential element of the communication process. Therefore, linguistic knowledge as well as the child’s intellectual development must not be disregarded while assessing SLI or other language impairments (almost all previous lectures supported such necessity).
The panel once again addressed the issue raised in the panel discussion 1 – when can we talk about the accurate assessment of language impairment. Views on this matter are divided. While assessing a two-year-old child, we cannot say exactly whether the child suffers from a specific language impairment or just has a speech delay. Language development is very dynamic up to the age of three so there is no point in assessing and labeling younger children, since they may catch up with their normally developing peers. On the other hand, it would be a good idea to monitor children with any language problems from the earliest years and closely check on their development. This could lead to a successful potential intervention.
Another aspect explored in the course of the discussion was the parent’s role in the therapy process for a child with language impairments. The participants were asked to share information on the effectiveness of different types of therapy. According to Prof Danon-Boileau, therapists should not specialize in one therapy method (which is, as he asserts, a common practice alarmingly similar to a religious fanaticism), but rather combine elements of various approaches, which proved to be effective in treating specific impairments. The same view was emphasized by Professor Bernstein Ratner and Stephanie Orloski.
Furthermore, the panelists were asked when the therapy should end. They stressed that there is no simple answer to that question. It is the individual issue, just as the dynamic of language development. Even twenty-year-olds may benefit greatly from the appropriate therapy. However, adult patients often perceive the therapy as a laborious and futile process and renounce it. The great challenge, regardless of patient’s age, is motivation. All the previous efforts may be thwarted if the therapy is terminated too soon. Prof Nippold supported the thesis with the economic argument. In the long run, investment in treating people with language impairments is more cost-effective than leaving them alone, which brings many negative social results (such as the increase in crime figures or tax exemption for people with disabilities).
The discussion was closed with the question of the parent’s role in the therapy process. It was emphasized that the parent or guardian should be treated as a full participant in the therapy.

 


Panel discussion 3: Policy issues


The moderator of this session was Professor Marta Bogdanowicz. The panel consisted of: Ineta Dabašinskienė, Patricia Eadie, Urszula Kucy, Stanisław Milewski, Elżbieta Neroj, Monika Pawłowska, Danuta Pluta-Wojciechowska, Alina Smyczek, Catherine Snow and Thora Ulfsdottir.
In the course of the third panel discussion, the participants raised policy issues related to dealing with problems of children with SLI, issues concerning speech-language pathologists’ training and lack of communication between educational institutions, state organizations, parents and experts.
The discussion was opened by Alina Smyczek, who noticed that children with language impairments in Poland often do not receive adequate documents attesting their problems. Her point was supported by Elżbieta Kucy – the mother of a boy with SLI and the initiator of forming the association of parents of children with SLI. The woman stated that children with SLI happen to be classified as physically handicapped, and such an inaccurate assessment leads to providing unsuitable forms of aid. She added that children in Polish institutions are assessed too late, and basic therapy is hardly ever continued. Professor Bogdanowicz, summing up both statements, remarked that parents, in cooperation with experts in the field of language impairments, are most likely to introduce any changes to the areas which the abovementioned comments concerned.
Furthermore, the panelists focused on training standards for speech-language pathologists. The participants also addressed the issue of raising social awareness of SLI, which could improve the situation of children with language impairment in educational institutions. Danuta Pluta-Wojciechowska, a speech-language pathologist, stressed once more the importance of terminology standardization and accurate defining of specific impairments. She noticed that SLI is not included in standards for speech-language pathologists from 2008, which concern the assessment of speech impairments. Additionally, according to Danuta Wojciechowska, there are too few speech and language pathologists in Poland to effectively help children with language impairments.
The problem of low social awareness of language impairments was raised particularly by foreign panelists, experts from Lithuania (Ineta Dabašinskienė) and Iceland (Thora Ulfsdottir), who stated that access to reliable information on SLI is quite limited in their countries, just as in Poland. They paid attention to the role of mass media in the process of changing that state of affairs. The important point of the discussion was also the statement of Elżbieta Neroj, the representative of Educational Opportunities Department of the Ministry of National Education, who referred to her predecessor’s comments.
Summing up the third panel discussion, Prof Catherine Snow emphasized two main problems related to the situation of children with language impairments in Poland. The first one is lack of social awareness, reliable information on SLI and coverage of the issue in the media. The second concerns the effective cooperation between parents, practitioners dealing with language impairments and working with children (speech-language pathologists, teachers, pediatricians), and academics examining SLI. Prof Snow stated that both problems are serious and must be overcome so that the situation of children with SLI could be improved. Additionally, she noted that conferences such as that one provide a good basis for coping with the mentioned problems.

 


Official summary of the conference


Due to the fact that that Hanen Center workshops were planned for the fourth day of the conference (Sunday), the academic part was officially summed up on Saturday evening, after the panel discussions.  
The first speaker was Professor Smoczyńska, who started with mentioning the origins of the study of SLI in Poland. She stated that the most important events of that period include publication of Laurence Leonard’s (one of the speakers in the conference) classic book about SLI, undertaking her own study on children with speech delay, and the conception of organizing a conference on SLI in Poland. Professor Smoczyńska stressed that she did not expect the idea to turn into such huge and professional undertaking. She thanked both lecturers and panelists for participation in the conference and emphasized that the conference provides an excellent opportunity for establishing further communication between all people interested in language impairments. In conclusion of her statement, Prof Smoczyńska highlighted the significance of the mentioned communication for developing effective methods of treating SLI (she presented the Hanen method in which she is particularly interested and the workshops which had been planned for the next day) and introducing those methods to all institutions helping children with SLI.
The next speaker was Prof Michał Fedorowicz, the director of IBE. He stated that the conference provided vital and professionally presented information on SLI. Then, he thanked Prof essor Smoczyńska, stressing that without her the Conference could not be held. Furthermore, Michał Fedorowicz emphasized the urgent necessity of introducing battery tests for assessing SLI to Polish institutions. He also quoted the saying ‘make haste slowly’ referring to the fact that the battery tests must be developed carefully.
There was no end to the thanks. Prof Esther Dromi spoke on behalf of all foreign guests. The participants of the conference were delighted not only with the contents of the lectures, but also with an excellent organization and concern for their comfort. Therefore, all thanks were also directed to IBE, particularly to Renata Olech (the leader of the Promotion Team) and Aneta Ganeczko with the team, who were in charge of organizational issues. The conference organizer (Nobell Congressing) and the team of simultaneous interpreters also received enthusiastic applause.
The important and optimistic aspect of the official conclusion was the short statement of Dr Zofia Wodniecka from Jagellonian University, who invited all participant to international conference on language development in bilingualism (considering typical and non-typical/impaired bilingual development). The conference will be held in May 2013 in Kraków as a final conference of the COST IS0804 programme.
At the very end, conference moderators, Maria Cywińska and Michał Paradowski gave Professor Smoczyńska a magnolia tree as ‘late blooming gift for a long lasting effects of the conference’. The last warm round of applause closed the conference.

dzieci

 sli

The prevalence of Specific Language Impairment in children is 7% and is characterized by difficulties in using language. Children with SLI learn to talk later than typically developing children and once they start talking, their linguistic abilities are limited: they have limited lexicon, problems with grammar, they do not understand complex sentences. Dyslexia is also common among them. Children with SLI, even though they have correct hearing, are intellectually capable, do not have neurological disorders nor features of autism, are prone to severe education failures, which has a negative impact on their lives. It is estimated that there are about 300 thousand children with SLI in Poland. Most of them are not diagnosed and have no chance of receiving the necessary treatment.



 

 

 sli

dzieci

 

As we were preparing for the international Conference on SLI in Poland, a group of four prominent British academics: Dorothy Bishop, Professor at Oxford University; Gina Conti- Ramsden, Professor at the University of Manchester; Dr Courtenay Norbury from the University of London and Maggie Snowling, Professor at the University of York, had launched in May 2012 a joint initiative: Raising Awareness of Language Learning Impairments (RALLI). Within the campaign, short videos are published on youtube, in which specialists explain the characteristics of language impairments, including SLI, stressing their negative impact on the people affected. Children with SLI themselves also talk about their experiences. We would like to encourage you to watch the RALLI videos.


http://www.youtube.com/RALLIcampaign

kapital ludzki ibe ee ue

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