Three profiles of language abilities in toddlers with an expressive vocabulary delay: variations on a theme

J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2010 Jun;53(3):699-709. doi: 10.1044/1092-4388(2009/07-0245).


Purpose: The presence of an expressive vocabulary delay (EVD) in the context of otherwise harmonious development has been the main criterion used to define language delay in 2-year-olds. To better understand the communicative functioning of these children, other variables must be considered. In this study, the aim was to delineate and characterize clusters of 2-year-olds with EVD by measuring other language variables in these children.

Method: Language and related variables were measured in 68 francophone children with EVD.

Results: In a cluster analysis, 2 language variables--(a) language expression and engagement in communication and (b) language comprehension--yielded 3 clusters ranging from weak language ability to high scores on both variables. Further differences were found between these clusters with regard to 2 correlates of lexical acquisition--namely, size of the expressive vocabulary and cognitive development.

Conclusion: These results shed new light on the notion of heterogeneity in toddlers who present with an EVD by proposing subgroups among them. A follow-up investigation of these participants is ongoing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child Development
  • Child Language*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cognition
  • Communication
  • Comprehension
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Language Development Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Language Tests
  • Language*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Speech Perception