By Kate Hunger
Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders Assistant Professor Casey Taliancich-Klinger, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, received a pilot seed grant from the School of Health Professions to research language skills characteristics in bilingual children with and without developmental language disorder.
Taliancich-Klinger learned of the $10,000 award in March but had to make changes to her protocol in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is the primary investigator on the project. Her co-investigator, Brigham Young University Associate Professor Connie Summers, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, will be collecting data for the study in Utah.
The pilot study will look at children between the ages of 4 and 10 years old who are Spanish-English bilingual. The study will analyze language production in children who are typically developing and in children with a developmental language disorder. Participants will be assessed twice, with the second assessment to occur six to nine months after the first.
“I want to learn about their language development patterns so we can move to develop interventions for children with developmental language disorder who are bilingual,” Taliancich-Klinger said.
Bilingual or dual language learning kids tend to be at risk for being unidentified for having a communication disorder or overidentified for having a learning disorder, Taliancich-Klinger said. Some of the language skills researchers will be assessed include the ability to produce grammatical sentences, diversity of vocabulary and the ability to tell a coherent narrative.
“I study how children tell stories and look at their language skills while they tell stories,” Taliancich-Klinger said.
Because of COVID-19, the program will include a telehealth component, she said. The project data will also be used to validate assessment protocols for bilingual speakers that can be used via telehealth.
“We need to develop a way to accurately assess children via telehealth,” she said. “Right now our world in speech pathology has been reeling. We can’t stop.
We can’t just wait for COVID to go away.”
Taliancich-Klinger is recruiting study participants, who will be able to participate in person or virtually.
“I feel fortunate to have this award in this time of the pandemic because it has forced me to get creative with my research and my protocols, and I think has opened some doors for me to able to research best practices in telehealth for bilingual children as well as traditional in-person assessment and intervention,” she said.