Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Disorders & Special Education


Special Education

Committee Director

Peggy Hester

Committee Member

Kimberly A. Murphy

Committee Member

Jonna L. Bobzien


Up to 7.6% of children demonstrate a developmental language disorder (DLD), which can persist through adulthood, causing difficulty with academic achievement, social relationships, and financial stability. Grammar development, as a hallmark of DLD, is an important area of need for these children. Existing grammar interventions do not clearly distinguish the sensory input techniques that meet these children’s neurobiological instructional needs. This adapted alternating treatment design study implemented intervention using systematic paired visual and verbal and systematic paired motor, i.e. standardized gestures, and verbal sensory input techniques. A moderate-strong functional relation between intervention techniques using motor supports on grammatical outcomes in natural language practice (Tau-U = 0.68) and a potential functional relation between motor supports on grammatical outcomes in decontextualized tasks (Tau U = 0.45) were found. Both paired visual and verbal and paired motor and verbal interventions were found to have a potential functional relation with natural language use among children with DLD ages 4;7 – 6;9 years (n = 4). Patterns of response were reviewed in participants with comorbid delays in speech sound development, executive function development, and high activity levels. Children with severe grammar delays and ADHD/executive function challenges may derive more benefit from paired verbal and motor support. Children with milder overall language delays may respond better initially to combined verbal and visual supports. Both intervention modalities were socially valid and provided effectively by novice clinicians. Interventionists should consider conscious and consistent use of different sensory techniques within grammar intervention for children with DLD.