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Both infantile language impairment and attention deficit disorder are frequent problems of increasing relevance. The prevalence of such development disorders is not known exactly and the origins are insufficiently investigated so far. However, there is evidence for a correlation between language development and attention of children.
Both language development and attention are abilities of vital importance for further infantile development. A lack of these skills can lead to problems in other areas of child development. Therefore an early diagnosis of these disorders is most important in order to start a special advancement training program as soon as possible. Concerned parents are often told that their child will catch up with development at a later stage. Unfortunately this is most often a waste of valuable time.
The present study investigates the correlation between attention and language development of preschool children. Additionally the MKVK (“Marburger Konzentrations-Untersuchungs-Verfahren für Vorschulkinder”), which provides an appropriate method for the survey of attention, is tested for its feasibility to the age group of three to six year old children for the first time.
For these purposes 69 children between 3;00 and 5;09 years of age were investigated. Among them were 49 boys and 20 girls. One part of all investigated children were patients of the department for Phoniatrics and Pedaudiology of the University Hospital of Marburg. The remaining number was tested in a nursery school near Marburg. For the survey of language development the MSS (“Marburger Sprach-Screening”), which provides a test for the language ability of children, was performed with each child. The ability of paying attention was characterised by use of the MKVK. The result of the MSS was used to divide the children into the following two groups:
1. children with age-based language development
2. children with delayed language development
14 children presented an age-based language development and were consequently assigned to the first group. 53 of the remaining children showed a delayed language development. In two cases it was not possible to fully characterise the verbal skills.
In the following the differences concerning the attention between the two groups were analysed for their significance. The parameters for the attention of a child are the time needed and the number of failures made while performing the MKVK. The children with the age-based language development of the first group needed an average time of 582 seconds for the accomplishment of the MKVK while making 4,64 mistakes. The children with the delayed language development needed an average time of 650 seconds and made 5,72 mistakes. Consequently it appears that the average of children with existing language impairment achieved inferior results in the MKVK than the children of the comparison group. Admittedly this difference is neither for the time (p= 0,5075) nor for the number of failures (p= 0,9476) statistically significant in the U-Test of Mann-Whitney-Wilcoxon. Also there is no statistically significant correlation between attention and language development of a child in the regression analysis.
In comparison with previous studies it attracts attention that in this test series a relatively high percentage of children was not able to perform the MKVK until the end. A comparison of the children who performed the full MKVK with the children who discontinued the test shows a statistically significant difference for the age of the children in the U-Test of Mann-Whitney-Wilcoxon (p=0,0004). Due to the results of this study the MKVK can be recommended for children from the age of 4 years.
If this age restriction is considered the MKVK is a suitable method for the characterisation of attention of preschool children. The test is well accepted by the children and the procedure is easy and not too time-consuming. For these reasons the MKVK can be recommended for further application in practice. In the future it can make a contribution to detect infantile attention deficit disorders earlier and to affect a child’s further development positively by the start of a special advancement training program at an early stage.