Psycholinguistic markers for specific language impairment (SLI)

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2001 Sep;42(6):741-8. doi: 10.1111/1469-7610.00770.


In this study 160 children, aged 11 years with a definite history of specific language impairment (SLI), completed four tasks that could be potential positive psycholinguistic markers for this impairment: a third person singular task, a past tense task, a nonword repetition task, and a sentence repetition task. This allowed examination of more than one type of marker simultaneously, facilitating both comparisons between markers and also evaluation of combinations of markers in relation to identifying SLI. The study also provided data regarding the markers in relation to nonverbal IQ, made use of new normative data on all tasks, and examined marker accuracy in relation to current language status. The results show that markers vary in accuracy, with sentence repetition (a previously unused marker) proving to be the most useful. This psycholinguistic marker shows high levels of sensitivity (90%), specificity (85%), and overall accuracy (88%), as well as being able to identify the majority of children whose current language status falls in the normal range despite a history of SLI.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cognition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Language Disorders / psychology
  • Language Tests
  • Male
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Psychological Tests
  • Sensitivity and Specificity