Simultaneous sign and spoken language training was conducted with young, language-disordered children under standardized training and follow-up conditions with a stringent learning criterion to determine if language learned was stable over time. Twenty-one children between 36 and 86 months with no or nonfunctional language participated in the study. Diagnoses included autism, mental retardation, combined autism and mental retardation, and developmental aphasia. Children completed a mean of 74 signed speech training sessions. Sessions were twice daily, 5 days a week. Follow-up evaluations were made approximately 6 months after training. Of the 21 children, 17 learned at least one word and 7 children learned multiple-word phrases during the training. Most language learned in training was found to be retained at follow-up approximately 6 months later. Gestural imitation, play style, language age, developmental age, and fine motor skills had strong correlations with language learning and retention.
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