Early identification of language delay by direct language assessment or parent report?

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2008 Feb;29(1):34-41. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e318146902a.


Objective: The goal of the study was to compare the accuracy and diagnostic power of a parent report measure and direct language assessment for early identification of children with language delay.

Method: The parent language report and direct language measures were compared for 47 typically developing toddlers and 70 late-talking toddlers aged 24 to 26 months. One year later, language abilities of 102 of the 117 children were reassessed.

Results: The concurrent validity of the parent report was high both for judging language skills and for identifying language delay. No evidence was found of differences in the rating accuracy of mothers with different educational levels. Language abilities 1 year later were predicted better with direct language measurement than with the parent report. However, there were no differences between the accuracy of the parent report and individual language assessment concerning the prediction of language delay at age 3.

Conclusion: The results suggest that the parent language report is a valid and efficient tool for assessing productive language abilities and judging expressive language delay in 2-year-old toddlers. The measurement characteristics of the parent report are comparable with those of direct language measures.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Early Diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Development Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Language Development Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Language Tests*
  • Male
  • Observer Variation
  • Parents*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*