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An evaluation of the linguistic and cultural validity of the Spanish language version of the children with special health care needs screener. The 2001 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN) used the CSHCN Screener, a 5-item survey based tool, to identify children with special health care needs. The prevalence of special health care needs for Hispanic children was lower than that reported for all other ethnic and racial groups, with the exception of Asian children. To better understand the reasons for the lower prevalence rate, this study examined variations in CSHCN prevalence for Hispanic children according to whether parents responded to the National Survey of CSHCN screening interview in Spanish or English. The Spanish translation of the CSHCN Screener was further evaluated through a series of face-to-face interviews with parents with limited English proficiency (LEP). METHODS: The 2001 National Survey of CSHCN screened 372,174 children ages 0-17 years for special health care needs. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to examine the effects of interview language on the CSHCN prevalence rates for Hispanic children (n = 47,371). Using a standardized protocol, cognitive interviews were conducted in Spanish with 19 LEP parents to elicit their comprehension of and reactions to the screening questions. RESULTS: When parents were interviewed in English, 11.7% of Hispanic children were identified as CSHCN. When parents were interviewed in Spanish, 5.1% of Hispanic children were identified as CSHCN. Lower prevalence of the need for or use of prescription medications for chronic conditions made the largest contribution to the observed difference in CSHCN prevalence. Cognitive interviews with parents did not identify any linguistic or cultural deficiencies in the Spanish translation of the CSHCN Screener. Parents did express disinclination toward sharing details of their children's health in the context of a typical telephone survey. mchj.
Spoken word recognition by Latino children learning Spanish as their first language. Research on the development of efficiency in spoken language understanding has focused largely on middle-class children learning English. Here we extend this research to Spanish-learning children (n=49; M=2;0; range= 1 ;3-3; 1) living in the USA in Latino families from primarily low socioeconomic backgrounds. Children looked at pictures of familiar objects while listening to speech naming one of the objects. Analyses of eye movements revealed developmental increases in the efficiency of speech processing. Older children and children with larger vocabularies were more efficient at processing spoken language as it unfolds in real time, as previously documented with English learners. Children whose mothers had less education tended to be slower and less accurate than children of comparable age and vocabulary size whose mothers had more schooling, consistent with previous findings of slower rates of language learning in children from disadvantaged backgrounds. These results add to the cross-linguistic literature on the development of spoken word recognition and to the study of the impact of socioeconomic status (SES) factors on early language development. jcl.
Young children learning Spanish make rapid use of grammatical gender in spoken word recognition. All nouns in Spanish have grammatical gender, with obligatory gender marking on preceding articles (e.g., la and el, the feminine and masculine forms of "the," respectively). Adult native speakers of languages with grammatical gender exploit this cue in on-line sentence interpretation. In a study investigating the early development of this ability, Spanish-learning children (34-42 months) were tested in an eye-tracking procedure. Presented with pairs of pictures with names of either the same grammatical gender (la pelota, "ball [feminine]"; la galleta, "cookie [feminine]") or different grammatical gender (la pelota; el zapato, "shoe [masculine]"), they heard sentences referring to one picture (Encuentra la pelota, "Find the ball"). The children were faster to orient to the referent on different-gender trials, when the article was potentially informative, than on same-gender trials, when it was not, and this ability was correlated with productive measures of lexical and grammatical competence. Spanish-learning children who can speak only 500 words already use gender-marked articles in establishing reference, a processing advantage characteristic of native Spanish-speaking adults. ps.