Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Yvette D. Hyter

Second Advisor

Dr. Janice Bedrosian

Third Advisor

Dr. Michelle Suarez


Child language, trauma language, maltreatment exposure, pragmatics, syntax, semantics, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Children who experience maltreatment and children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) have similar neurological differences and are at risk for language impairments. However, limited research has been conducted to analyze their specific skill sets. To address this limitation, retrospective data from the Children’s Trauma Assessment Center of Southwest Michigan were analyzed. The linguistic profiles of 79 children with histories of varying numbers of traumatic experiences and comorbid FASD statues are compared in the areas of semantics, syntax, pragmatics, and social communication. Individuals had high pass rates on the CELF-5 Screening Test and high overall scores on the Pragmatic Protocol-Revised Discourse Subtests, but show clinically significant deficits on specific areas of these assessments. Individuals also had elevated rates of impairments on tests of social perspective taking. Kruskal-Wallis test revealed that individuals with 6-11 trauma exposure status have statistically significant higher scores on Narrative Retell than those with 11-15 trauma exposures. Conversation skills were not impacted by numbers of exposures. Due to a lack of participants, individuals with comorbid FASD could not be analyzed in this study. Future research should expand on these results with more comprehensive assessments and use it to develop more sensitive linguistic treatments for this population.