Susan Slayton
EDSP 287
Prof. Morrison
Abstract: Computer Games for Language-Impaired Children


A recent experimental program at Rutgers University found that a certain type of computer game greatly aids students with language-impairments. Many children with language impairments have difficulty determining the difference between hard consonants such as p, d, and b because the sounds are enunciated much more quickly than vowel sounds, which resonate longer.
These computer programs, likened to "aerobics for the brain," basically use a game format in which hard sounds are made easier to hear "by elongating them, spacing them farther apart, and making them louder." Children are rewarded for correct answers with a lively computer graphic. After a month of training consisting of three hours a day, five days a week working with the computer games, students showed significant improvement in distinguishing between hard consonants.
Research has suggested that dyslexia, a reading disorder, and other oral language impairments are inherited disorders. During the first year of life, children "sweep up similar-sounding speech sounds and file them away in phonic bins." Putting hard consonants in the same "phonic bins" greatly inhibits students from later being able to group sounds into words and sentences, ultimately leading to extreme difficulty with reading.
Although these impairments are not irreparable, the earlier the intervention, the greater the success in treating the disorder. Researchers hope that through the use of computer programs children with language-impairments can be helped, even before they begin trying to talk.

Bibliographical Citation:

Nash, J. M. (1996, January 29). Zooming in on dyslexia. Time, 147, 62-64.


Students with language-disorders are traditionally pulled out of the regular classroom for services throughout the school year. With the use of computer programs such as those described, language-impairments may be more quickly diagnosed, treated, and cured -- without the student having to go through the trauma of being constantly removed from the classroom for services. Furthermore, in curing these oral-language-impairments, a student's ability to read is greatly enhanced, and reading is a basic foundation for building success in school
The article also states the importance of early intervention, beginning even during the first year of a child's life. It will be interesting to see what role the school would play in intervention for toddlers. Certainly preschool programs such as Headstart and Smartstart would be well-advised to investigate the use of computer programs such as these.
Computer curriculum would also be greatly affected by research such as this. This research, should it prove valid over a period of time, could mean that other learning disorders, not just oral-language disorders, could be corrected through the use of specific computer programs.