Article

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 657-673

First online:

Production deficiencies in elicited language but not in the spontaneous verbalizations of hyperactive children

  • Sydney S. ZentallAffiliated withDepartment of Special Education, Purdue University

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Abstract

Setting and task conditions were assessed for their effects on the language of hyperactive children. Verbal data were recorded for 22 hyperactive children and 22 elementary-age controls during four storytelling tasks and transitions, and under two conditions of a nonverbal performance task in a counterbalanced order. Findings were that hyperactive children were more spontaneously talkative than their classmates during transitions and nonverbal tasks (nonelicited conditions) but were less talkative when they were asked to tell stories (elicited conditions). These findings and those attributable to the story comparisons were interpreted in line with the optimal stimulation theory, which suggests that minimal stimulus input (delays and nonelicited conditions) precipitate excessive verbal activity from hyperactive children. Production deficiencies, on the other hand, were specific to type of stimulus input to be processed. Stories requiring organization and planning without the external structure or salience of visual cues (a sequence of word cards or pictures) produced production deficiencies.