Non-linguistic cognitive treatment for primary language impairment

Kerry Danahy Ebert, Kathryn Kohnert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Children with primary or 'specific' language impairment (PLI) demonstrate subtle deficits in non-linguistic cognitive processing skills that may play a causal or contributing role in PLI. The purpose of this study was to investigate the possibility that short-term treatment of non-linguistic cognitive processing skills improves language abilities in school-aged children with PLI. Two children with severe PLI participated in a treatment study following a single-subject multiple-baseline design across participants and skill areas. Treatment activities targeted auditory memory and speed of processing for visual information. Results of both repeated dependent measures and pre- and post- standardized language testing indicated that participants made gains in expressive language skills, particularly naming. This preliminary evidence suggests that treatment of non-linguistic cognitive processing skills may facilitate change in some areas of language skill. Treatment of non-linguistic processing skills should be further explored as a complement to more traditional language interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)647-664
Number of pages18
JournalClinical Linguistics and Phonetics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Oct 12 2009


  • Non-linguistic processing
  • Specific language impairment
  • Treatment

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