Narrative abilities of children with epilepsy
Article first published online: 17 DEC 2012
© 2012 Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists
International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders
Volume 48, Issue 2, pages 207–219, March-April 2013
How to Cite
Strekas, A., Ratner, N. B., Berl, M. and Gaillard, W. D. (2013), Narrative abilities of children with epilepsy. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 48: 207–219. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-6984.2012.00203.x
- Issue published online: 8 MAR 2013
- Article first published online: 17 DEC 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: OCT 2012
- Manuscript Received: JUN 2012
- narrative skills;
- epilepsy (seizure disorder);
- listener judgments
There is a noticeable publication gap in the speech–language pathology literature regarding the language abilities of children with common types of epilepsy. This paper reviews studies that suggest a high frequency of undetected language problems in this population, and it proposes the need for pragmatically based assessment of children with epilepsy that includes analysis of spontaneous language skills.
To compare the language skills of two groups of children with epilepsy—those with recent onset seizures and those with more chronic seizure activity (>3 years’ duration)—using a mix of standardized tests, analysis of elicited narratives and listener judgments of the children's narratives.
Methods & Procedures
Twenty-five children with epilepsy, divided into two groups (recent onset versus chronic), were age- and gender-matched to 25 typically functioning peers. In addition to standardized IQ and language testing, children produced narratives to accompany the book Frog, Where Are You? (1969). Narratives were analysed for syntax, vocabulary and narrative components. Forty-five adult listeners each blindly rated nine narratives to create a large pool of listener judgments.
Outcomes & Results
Children with chronic epilepsy showed the greatest and significant differences in both language skill and listener judgments from their unaffected peers. Differences were smaller for children whose epilepsy was of more recent onset and their matched peers.
Conclusions & Implications
Although based on cross-sectional data rather than on longitudinal study, the current results raise the possibility that continued seizures, or prolonged exposure to the medications used to control them, produce decrements in children's language performance over time. Thus, the authors strongly urge that there is greater awareness of seizure disorder among speech-and-language pathologists/therapists, and they strongly recommend baseline testing at first diagnosis so that changes over time can be reliably documented.