Objective: To examine the association between early childhood speech and language disorders and young adult psychiatric disorders.
Method: In a longitudinal community study conducted in the Ottawa-Carleton region of Ontario, Canada, interviewers administered structured psychiatric interviews to age 19 participants who were originally identified as speech-impaired only, language-impaired, or nonimpaired at age 5. The first stage of the study took place in 1982 when participants were 5 years old, and the latest stage of the study took place between 1995 and 1997 when participants had a mean age of 19 years. This report examines the association between early childhood speech/language status and young adult psychiatric outcome.
Results: Children with early language impairment had significantly higher rates of anxiety disorder in young adulthood compared with nonimpaired children. The majority of participants with anxiety disorders had a diagnosis of social phobia. Trends were found toward associations between language impairment and overall and antisocial personality disorder rates. Males from the language-impaired group had significantly higher rates of antisocial personality disorder compared with males from the control group. Age of onset and comorbidity did not differ by speech/language status. The majority of participants with a disorder had more than one.
Conclusions: Results support the association between early childhood speech and language functioning and young adult psychiatric disorder over a 14-year period. This association underscores the importance of effective and early interventions.