seal  Purdue News

December 2, 2003

Children sought for language delay therapy study

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A Purdue University audiology and speech sciences professor is looking for children, ages 3 to 4 1/2 years old, who experience delays in language development, for a study that evaluates speech therapy approaches.

Child Language Program
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"Language delay occurs when children with normal intelligence and hearing have difficulty acquiring and using language," says Laurence Leonard, the Rachel E. Stark Distinguished Professor who runs Purdue's Child Language Program. The program is a long-term clinical intervention study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, that assesses the effectiveness of different treatments.

Children with language delay often leave out words, such as "of," "the" and "is," and only produce word combinations rather than complete sentences, Leonard says. For example, a child may say, "Mommy going in car" instead of "Mommy is going in the car."

"Many children are slow in learning to talk, however, about 5 percent continue to experience delays at 5 years of age," Leonard says. "If neglected, such delays can lead to reading disabilities in grade school years because language is the foundation for reading and writing."

Prior to joining the study, all children will receive a free screening for language delay to determine their eligibility for the program.

All study participants receive therapy twice a week for at least six to seven months. Children have 50 minutes of individual play-based therapy and 40 minutes of small-group therapy each session. Children enrolled in other speech-language therapy programs are still eligible for participation in this research project.

For more information about the Child Language Program, contact Barbara Brown, research associate, at (765) 496-6403 or (800) 691-4700. The program provides some compensation to families for travel to the initial assessment sessions.

Writer: Amy Patterson-Neubert, (765) 494-9723,

Sources: Laurence Leonard, (765) 494-3794,

Barbara Brown, (765) 496-6403,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Related Web site:
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association


Martha Levien, a Purdue University senior in speech sciences and audiology from Davenport, Iowa, works with a participant in the Child Language Program. This study seeks to evaluate different therapies for language delay. Children who are not treated fall behind not only in language development, but also in reading. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)

A publication-quality photograph is available at

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