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Narrative retelling in children with neurodevelopmental disorders: Is there a role for nonverbal temporal-sequencing skills?

Journal article
Authors Jakob Åsberg Johnels
Bibbi Hagberg
Christopher Gillberg
Carmela Miniscalco
Published in Scandinavian journal of psychology
Volume 54
Issue 5
Pages 376–385
ISSN 1467-9450
Publication year 2013
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Rehabilitation
Department of Psychology
Gillberg Neuropsychiatry Centre
Pages 376–385
Language en
Subject categories Child and adolescent psychiatry


Oral narrative retelling is often problematic for children with communicative and neurodevelopmental disorders. However, beyond a suggested role of language level, little is known about the basis of narrative performance. In this study we examine whether oral narrative retelling might be associated not just with language level but also with skills related to nonverbal narrative temporal sequencing. A diagnostically heterogeneous sample of Swedish-speaking children with a full scale IQ >70 was included in the study (N = 55; age 6-9 years). Narrative retelling skills were measured using the three subscores from the bus story test (BST). Independent predictors included (1) temporal sequencing skills according to a picture arrangement test and (2) a language skills factor consisting of definitional vocabulary and receptive grammar. Regression analyses show that language skills predicted BST Sentence Length and Subordinate Clauses subscores, while both temporal sequencing and language were independently linked with the BST Information subscore. When subdividing the sample based on nonverbal temporal sequencing level, a significant subgroup difference was found only for BST Information. Finally, a principal component analysis shows that temporal sequencing and BST Information loaded on a common factor, separately from the language measures. It is concluded that language level is an important correlate of narrative performance more generally in this diagnostically heterogeneous sample, and that nonverbal temporal sequencing functions are important especially for conveying story information. Theoretical and clinical implications are discussed.

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