Assessing Sentence Diversity in Toddlers At-Risk for Language Disorders

Megan M. Mckenna, Pamela A. Hadley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this article is to introduce clinicians to an approach for assessing toddlers' sentence diversity and using criterion-referenced expectations to identify toddlers at-risk for clinically significant delays in grammatical development between 30 and 36 months of age.

Method: Five at-risk toddlers were identified from an archival database. Mean length of utterance (MLU), grammatical complexity, and sentence diversity measures at 30 months of age were then used to evaluate the grammatical abilities of the at-risk children.

Results: Three participants had MLUs of 1.50 or more standard deviations below the mean which alone would be sufficient for raising clinical concern. Although the other two toddlers had MLUs above 1.50, assessment of sentence diversity identified them as at-risk. The sentence diversity findings were also consistent with low grammatical complexity scores.

Discussion: The clinical usefulness of a sentence-focused approach for assessment, intervention planning, and progress monitoring are discussed.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-172
JournalPerspectives on Language Learning and Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2014


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