||PURPOSE: To determine if children in the early stage of combining words are more likely to respond to imitation prompts that are telegraphic than to prompts that are grammatically complete and if they produce obligatory grammatical morphemes more reliably in response to grammatically complete imitation prompts than to telegraphic prompts.
METHOD: Five children between 30-51 months of age with language delay participated in a single-case alternating treatment design with 14 sessions split between a grammatical and a telegraphic condition. Alternating orders of the 14 sessions were randomly assigned to each child. Children were given 15 prompts to imitate a semantic relation that was either grammatically complete or telegraphic.
RESULTS: No differences between conditions were found for the number of responses that contained a semantic relation. In contrast, three of the five children produced significantly more grammatical morphemes when presented with grammatically complete imitation prompts. Two children did not include a function word in either condition.
CONCLUSION: Providing a telegraphic prompt to imitate does not offer any advantage as an intervention technique. Children are just as likely to respond to a grammatically complete imitation prompt. Further, including function words encourages children who are developmentally ready to imitate them.