Modeling developmental language difficulties from school entry into adulthood: literacy, mental health, and employment outcomes

J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2009 Dec;52(6):1401-16. doi: 10.1044/1092-4388(2009/08-0142).


Purpose: Understanding the long-term outcomes of developmental language difficulties is key to knowing what significance to attach to them. To date, most prognostic studies have tended to be clinical rather than population-based, which necessarily affects the interpretation. This study sought to address this issue using data from a U.K. birth cohort of 17,196 children, following them from school entry to adulthood, examining literacy, mental health, and employment at 34 years of age. The study compared groups with specific language impairment (SLI), nonspecific language impairment (N-SLI), and typically developing language (TL).

Method: Secondary data analysis of the imputed 5-year and 34-year data was carried using multivariate logistic regressions.

Results: The results show strong associations for demographic and biological risk for both impairment groups. The associations are consistent for the N-SLI group but rather more mixed for the SLI group.

Conclusions: The data indicate that both SLI and N-SLI represent significant risk factors for all the outcomes identified. There is a strong case for the identification of these children and the development of appropriate interventions. The results are discussed in terms of the measures used and the implications for practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aging*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Employment*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Development Disorders* / therapy
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Socioeconomic Factors