Fourteen-year follow-up of children with and without speech/language impairments: speech/language stability and outcomes

J Speech Lang Hear Res. 1999 Jun;42(3):744-60. doi: 10.1044/jslhr.4203.744.


This report concerns the speech and language outcomes of young adults (N = 242) who participated in a 14-year, prospective, longitudinal study of a community sample of children with (n = 114) and without (n = 128) speech and/or language impairments. Participants were initially identified at age 5 and subsequently followed at ages 12 and 19. Direct assessments were conducted in multiple domains (communicative, cognitive, academic, behavioral, and psychiatric) at all three time periods. Major findings included (a) high rates of continued communication difficulties in those with a history of impairment; (b) considerable stability in language performance over time; (c) better long-term outcomes for those with initial speech impairments than for those with language impairments; and (d) more favorable prognoses for those with specific language impairments than for those with impairments secondary to sensory, structural, neurological, or cognitive deficits. These general conclusions held when either a liberal or a more stringent criterion for language impairment was employed. Some of these findings are consistent with those from earlier follow-up studies, which used less optimal methods. Thus, the present replication and extension of these findings with a sound methodology enables greater confidence in their use for prognostic, planning, and research purposes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Language Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Language Disorders / therapy
  • Language Therapy
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Speech / physiology*
  • Speech Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Speech Disorders / therapy
  • Speech Therapy
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome