Behavior Regulation and Language Outcomes for Children With Language Impairment ASHFoundation Awards: I investigate active ingredients of language treatment for children with language impairment (LI) in the public schools. In other words, I seek to identify aspects of intervention that seem to matter in supporting children’s growth. Of these active ingredients, one specific focus of my research is ... Foundational Questions
Free
Foundational Questions  |   December 01, 2016
Behavior Regulation and Language Outcomes for Children With Language Impairment
Author Notes
  • Mary Beth Schmitt, PhD, CCC-SLP, assistant professor, speech and hearing sciences, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
    Mary Beth Schmitt, PhD, CCC-SLP, assistant professor, speech and hearing sciences, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center×
Article Information
Language Disorders / Foundational Questions
Foundational Questions   |   December 01, 2016
Behavior Regulation and Language Outcomes for Children With Language Impairment
The ASHA Leader, December 2016, Vol. 21, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.FQ.21122016.np
The ASHA Leader, December 2016, Vol. 21, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.FQ.21122016.np
ASHFoundation Awards:
  • 2012 Student Research Grant in Early Childhood Language Development ($2,000), “Treatment Dosage, Child Engagement and Treatment Impacts for Children with Language Disorders”

  • 2010 New Century Scholars Doctoral Scholarship ($10,000)

What is the focus of your research?
I investigate active ingredients of language treatment for children with language impairment (LI) in the public schools. In other words, I seek to identify aspects of intervention that seem to matter in supporting children’s growth. Of these active ingredients, one specific focus of my research is children’s behavior regulation. Behavior regulation is the extent to which children can attend to relevant information, remember instructions, and inhibit their dominant responses in favor of what is expected. Theoretically, children with stronger behavior regulation may be able to benefit from treatment and classroom instruction more than children with weaker behavior regulation. Children with strong behavior regulation skills—who are able to attend, remember and inhibit—will be able to access the treatment and instruction necessary to promote language growth.
How did your award from the ASHFoundation lead to your current work?
With money from the Foundation, I coded therapy videos of young children with LI receiving intervention in the public schools. In this project, I found a significant association between children’s behavior regulation—defined in this study as active engagement in treatment (responding verbally or nonverbally to the prompt)—and language outcomes. Children with LI who spent more time actively engaged in treatment showed more language gains over a year than their peers with LI who were not as actively engaged. That research provided preliminary support for the importance of behavior regulation in language treatment, which led me to develop a behavior regulation intervention to systematically target children’s behavior regulation skills (attention, memory and inhibition). The feasibility of this intervention, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is currently being tested in the public schools.
What do you hope to demonstrate through your research—or what has it already demonstrated?
My research, due in large part to the funding provided from the ASHFoundation, has shown significant associations between behavior regulation and language outcomes for children with LI. What I hope to learn through the NIH grant is whether this intervention is effective in boosting behavior regulation skills for this population, and if improvements in behavior regulation then lead to improvements in language and literacy skills. If so, this research has the potential to be immediately beneficial to children with LI and the clinicians who provide services to them.
Why did you choose this particular research focus?
As a clinical faculty member at the University of Texas at Dallas Callier Center, I ran a preschool program for children with LI. In this preschool, children came five days a week for two and a half hours a day, and we infused language targets into a typical preschool routine (circle time, centers, snack). Besides language targets, children learned how to “do” school. They learned how to sit in circle time and attend to the story, how to stop an activity and clean up even when they weren’t finished, and how to remember the expectations of a particular routine. We were working on behavior regulation, even though at the time I didn’t have a name for it. But anecdotally, the children who figured out how to “do” school seemed to have an easier time transitioning into kindergarten than the children who struggled with those skills.
When I began my PhD program at The Ohio State University, I read psychology and education research describing the role of behavior regulation on academic progress for typically developing children. However, at the time, there was little information on how behavior regulation manifested among children with LI. I was able to merge my clinical experiences with doctoral studies to identify this focus for my research.
How has ASHFoundation funding affected your professional life?
The ASHFoundation funding not only supported my work as a PhD student, but laid the foundation for my current federal funding. Without the grant, I may not have had the pilot data and prior studies necessary to justify funding to the NIH for my current intervention study. My career has always been vested in improving the quality of life for children with LI. Now as a researcher, my aim is to identify what matters for children with LI and to develop and promote interventions that advance their language growth. ASHFoundation funding has played a significant role in helping me achieve my career goals and, more important, in helping advance our field’s knowledge of evidence-based practices for children with LI.
0 Comments
Submit a Comment
Submit A Comment
Name
Comment Title
Comment


This feature is available to Subscribers Only
Sign In or Create an Account ×
FROM THIS ISSUE
December 2016
Volume 21, Issue 12