1st Edition

Children's Comprehension Problems in Oral and Written Language A Cognitive Perspective

Edited By Kate Cain, Jane Oakhill Copyright 2007

    Comprehension is the ultimate aim of reading and listening. How do children develop the ability to comprehend written and spoken language, and what can be done to help those who are having difficulties? This book presents cutting-edge research on comprehension problems experienced by children without any formal diagnosis as well as those with specific language impairment, autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, hearing impairment, head injuries, and spina bifida. Providing in-depth information to guide research and practice, chapters describe innovative assessment strategies and identify important implications for intervention and classroom instruction. The book also sheds light on typical development and the key cognitive skills and processes that underlie successful comprehension.

    I. Comprehension Processes and Impairments in Typically Developing Children

    1. Introduction to Comprehension Development, Jane Oakhill and Kate Cain

    2. Reading Comprehension Difficulties: Correlates, Causes, and Consequences, Kate Cain and Jane Oakhill

    II. Comprehension Impairments in Children with Developmental Disorders

    3. Comprehension Difficulties in Children with Specific Language Impairment and Pragmatic Language Impairment, Nicola Botting

    4. Language Comprehension Difficulties in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Susan Leekam

    5. Story Comprehension Impairments in Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Elizabeth P. Lorch, Kristen S. Berthiaume, Richard Milich, and Paul van den Broek

    6. Reading Comprehension and Working Memory in Children with Learning Disabilities in Reading, H. Lee Swanson, Crystal B. Howard, and Leilani Sáez

    III. Comprehension Impairments in Association with Neurological Damage and Sensory Impairment

    7. Comprehension in a Neurodevelopmental Disorder, Spina Bifida Myelomeningocele, Marcia A. Barnes, Amber M. Johnston, and Maureen Dennis

    8. Impaired Discourse Gist in Pediatric Brain Injury: Missing the Forest for the Trees, Lori G. Cook, Sandra B. Chapman, and Jacquelyn F. Gamino

    9. The Comprehension of Skilled Deaf Readers: The Roles of Word Recognition and Other Potentially Critical Aspects of Competence, Leonard P. Kelly and Dragana Barac-Cikoja

    IV. Conclusions

    10. Cognitive Bases of Children’s Language Comprehension Difficulties: Where Do We Go from Here?, Kate Cain and Jane Oakhill


    Kate Cain, DPhil, is a Reader in the Department of Psychology at Lancaster University. Her research and publications focus on the development of language comprehension in children, with a particular interest in the skill deficits that lead to comprehension problems. Dr. Cain’s recent journal articles report investigations into the relations that exist between children’s reading comprehension and their inference-making skill, knowledge of narrative structure, interpretation of figurative language, vocabulary-learning mechanisms, and memory processes. She is an Associate Editor of the International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders and the Journal of Research in Reading.

    Jane Oakhill, DPhil, is a Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Sussex. Since completing her doctorate on the topic of children’s problems in reading comprehension, she has worked on various research projects--including deductive reasoning in children and adults, circadian variations in human performance, and adult language comprehension--but has always maintained a research interest in children’s reading comprehension, particularly individual differences. Dr. Oakhill has published widely on children’s reading comprehension. In 1991 she received the British Psychological Society’s Spearman Medal; she was elected to a Fellowship of the Society in 2005.

    This is a valuable book from researchers at the forefront of studying children’s oral and written comprehension difficulties. In a single volume, Cain and Oakhill have brought together recent findings on the many populations in which comprehension failure occurs. This affords the reader a unique opportunity to discover the commonalities and differences across groups and measures. The final chapter provides a clear synthesis of the state of the art and lays out directions for future research. This book will be much appreciated by researchers and practitioners interested in comprehension and the factors that influence it.--Hollis Scarborough, PhD, Haskins Laboratories
    This excellent volume integrates a range of perspectives on children’s language comprehension impairments. Its coverage is unusually broad: We learn about comprehension impairments in children with neurodevelopmental disorders, acquired disorders, and sensory impairments. Cain and Oakhill bring a very strong editorial voice to these diverse contributions, drawing together common themes and setting out questions for future research and practice. Providing a detailed and up-to-date review, this volume is guaranteed to be of great interest to advanced students, researchers, and practitioners.--Kate Nation, DPhil, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, UK
    This volume provides a comprehensive summary of the latest research on the correlates, causes, and consequences of language comprehension difficulties in children with developmental, neurological, and sensory impairment. Contributors present comprehensive summaries and discussions of current knowledge on their respective topics. This volume will go a long way to improve our understanding of why children have comprehension difficulties, while also showing what we can do to prevent and treat these problems.--Alan G. Kamhi, PhD, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of North Carolina-Greensboro
    Comprehensive and integrative, this book assembles an impressive group of researchers and educators who thoroughly explore the evidence base on the development of language and reading comprehension in diverse populations of children. A common picture emerges, facilitated by the integrative narratives of the editors--although there are multiple sources of comprehension difficulties, the language and reading comprehension difficulties across populations are often similar. This book is unique in its coverage of language and reading comprehension development and disorders. It is highly suitable for courses on language development, learning disabilities, and speech and language development. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a better understanding of research on the multiple sources of comprehension development and disorders in children.--Jack M. Fletcher, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Houston
    This cutting-edge book brings reading research full circle, from its current phonology-centered paradigm to the earlier emphasis on comprehension as the ultimate goal of reading. It is likely to dispel the widely held belief that phonological and decoding skills must precede reading comprehension. The book is unique in covering comprehension disabilities in many different populations, as well as in relation to normal comprehension. This well-conceptualized treatment of comprehension disabilities is likely to appeal to wide-ranging audiences, from students to researchers to practitioners in school and medical settings. Cain and Oakhill have made seminal contributions to the field of comprehension research, and they have assembled top-notch contributors for this important volume.--Virginia W. Berninger, PhD, Educational Psychology Program, University of Washington
    This welcome, comprehensive text begins with an overview of central concepts related to the normal acquisition of written and spoken language comprehension, and then proceeds to examine related neurodevelopmental problems that historically have been both perplexing and pervasive. The authors provide an important summary of theoretical models and relevant research without neglecting practical implications and educational interventions. There is ample coverage of both typically developing children and those with commonly encountered neurodevelopmental disorders. This volume will be a useful reference for a broad spectrum of clinical disciplines, including pediatric neuropsychologists, school psychologists, speech and language pathologists, special education teachers, graduate students, and advanced trainees. It should also prove to be a valuable stimulus for future investigators.--Ida Sue Baron, PhD, Department of Pediatrics, University of Virginia School of Medicine
    The authors use a wealth of research to describe cognitive processes involved in comprehension difficulties. Importantly for practice, the inter-dependency of verbal skills, verbal comprehension, and reading comprehension is discussed....I recommend this book to any speech and language therapist, psychologist, teacher, and graduate student with a specific interest in literacy and comprehension difficulties.
    --Speech & Language Therapy in Practice, 5/9/2008