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Variability and language learning disabilities: An information processing perspective

Lahey, Margaret; Bloom, Lois

Efforts to understand language learning disabilities have generally used information processing as a theoretical orientation. However, it is often difficult to identify which aspects of information processing cause problems in learning language. In addition, information processing approaches are often unable to account for either the variability in the performance of an individual child, or variability among children from similar cultural and linguistic backgrounds. In this chapter, we focus first on the concept of a limited capacity processor as a paradigm for understanding some of the variation observed within and among children. Identifying factors that compete for a child’s limited processing abilities can help to clarify goals and determine intervention procedures in the face of variable performance. Second, we suggest that an important component of language processing is the child’s ability to construct and hold in mind the momentary mental representations that underlie language expression and interpretation. Such representations are constructed for interpretation and expression by integrating information from the immediate context with information accessed from memory, using language and other contextual cues. As obvious as these points might seem, they are rarely considered in efforts to understand a child’s difficulty learning language and variability in language performance. The purpose of this chapter is to show how the concept of a limited capacity processor together with understanding the importance of the role constructing such mental representations can contribute to assessment and planning intervention for children with language learning disabilities.


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Language learning disabilities in school-age children and adolescents: some principles and applications

More About This Work

Academic Units
Human Development
Published Here
February 20, 2017