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DLD Research

Please find below summaries of key DLD research findings. We hope these summaries are useful in improving your understanding of DLD. 
 
Our understanding of DLD is always evolving as more research comes out - all recommendations found below are based on evidence but may change over time as our knowledge and understanding of DLD changes.
 
As everyone is unique, our recommendations may not suit all individuals with DLD. Please keep this in mind!

DLD and Prosocial Behaviour

Toseeb, U., & St Clair, M. C. (2020). Trajectories of prosociality from early to middle childhood in children at risk of Developmental Language Disorder. Journal of Communication Disorders, 85.

Aim of the paper:

Our aim was to look at how children with DLD develop prosocial skills and compare their prosocial skill development to children without DLD. We looked at how prosocial skills developed from age 5 to 11. We then looked at social, behavioural and emotional outcomes at age 11 in children with DLD.  We looked at these outcomes when considering different types of prosocial development in childhood. 

What was found:

Children with DLD had slightly lower prosocial skills at age 5, 7 and 11 years old. This was when compared to children without DLD.

We found four groups of children with different prosocial development paths from age 5 to 11.  Group 1 (18% of all children) had high prosocial skills across childhood.  Group 2 (35% of all children) had a stable level of prosocial skills across development, but at a lower level. Group 3 (6% of all children) had high levels of prosocial skills early in childhood, but these reduced in middle and late childhood. Group 4 (41% of all children) had lower prosocial skills early childhood, but these increased to middle and later childhood. 

Children with DLD were more likely to be in the “stable low” group (Group 2) and less likely to be in the group with high prosocial skills (Group 1) across development. Children with DLD were no more or less likely to be part of the other two groups. 

Individuals with DLD who were in the groups that had lower prosocial skills at age 11 (Groups 2 and 3) had more emotional, peer, conduct and hyperactivity problems at age 11. 

 

What does this mean?

Prosocial skills are a relative strength in individuals with DLD. There was only a very small difference in prosocial skills at each time point. The most important finding from this study is that emerging prosocial behaviours are just as helpful in reducing peer, behavioural and emotional difficulties.  Both groups who had high prosocial skills at age 11 had better peer, behavioural and emotional outcomes than the groups with lower prosocial skills at age 11. Parents and teachers should encourage prosocial behaviours (helping others, being kind) in children with DLD.  Even if children struggle with prosocial behaviours in early childhood, these prosocial behaviours can develop if encouraged by parents and teachers.  This paper shows these prosocial behaviours can be protective against other difficulties.

 

Where can I read this paper?

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it.  Please click here to find the full paper.

DLD and Socialisation Strengths and Weaknesses

Lloyd-Esenkaya, V.; Russell, A.J.; Clair, M.C.S. What Are the Peer Interaction Strengths and Difficulties in Children with Developmental Language Disorder? A Systematic Review. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 3140.

 

Aim of the paper:

 

This study looks at research measuring how of children with DLD play or interact with other children. We were interested to know how big the studies are, where in the world they are conducted, and who took part in the research (e.g. number of boys vs girls). We also wanted to know what the research has found out about the social skills of children with DLD.

 

What was found:

Between 1981 – 2018, 28 studies have looked at the social skills of English-speaking primary school children with DLD.

Most studies took place in America (61%) or the UK (25%). More boys than girls took part in the research.

Most studies which looked at the children’s overall social skills found higher levels of peer problems in children with DLD. However, every child is different! Not all children with DLD have difficulties socialising or making friends.

Sometimes researchers watch children while they are playing and record what they see. Many children with DLD have challenges joining in with their peers. They often wait for other children to invite them to play.

Unfortunately, children with DLD are more likely to be bullied than children without DLD.

 

What does this mean?

Social skills in children with DLD is under-researched. We need to do more studies with larger groups of children to be sure of the findings. Right now, it is difficult to identify key social interaction styles which will apply to lots of children with DLD.

Children with DLD are likely to need extra support for their social skills. We know social skills are important for mental wellbeing and doing well in school. Teachers need to help prevent children with DLD from being bullied.

This study has shown there are many areas we need to understand better. Why do so many children with DLD experience peer problems? Most studies of social skills have focused on children’s weaknesses, so what are their strengths?

Where can I read this paper?

This is an open access paper so anyone can read it. Click here for the full paper. 

Do peer problems influence emotional problems?

Forrest, C. L., Gibson, J. L., Halligan, S. L., & St Clair, M. C. (2018). A longitudinal analysis of early language difficulty and peer problems on later emotional difficulties in adolescence: Evidence from the Millennium Cohort Study. Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, 3.

Aim of the paper:

We wanted to find out if peer problems (difficulties with friends) had an effect on emotional problems. We used data from the Millennium Cohort Study to examine a huge group of children and adolescents. We grouped them into children at risk of DLD or children with no language difficulties. We used teacher and parent’s views on social problems and emotional wellbeing. We know there are higher rates of anxious and depressive feelings in young people with DLD. We tested whether the higher rates of anxious and depressive feelings were due to difficulties socialising, not just their language skills.

The Millennium Cohort Study is a large study of children born in the year 2000-2001 from across Britain. Children and their families were first interviewed at age 9 months and then followed up every few years at age 3, 5, 7, 11 and 14. The age 17 data has just been released. Using longitudinal data like this allows us to look at developmental patterns over time. We can also get a better understanding of why changes might be occurring.

 

What was found:

We found that even children and adolescents who are at risk of DLD, but do not yet have a formal diagnosis, experience more difficulties with social and emotional wellbeing than their peers who do not have language difficulties. We also found that this difference in emotional wellbeing between the two groups was partly ‘explained’ by peer problems. That is, peer problems were seen to be influencing emotional problems. This was found at age 7 and age 14. So, peer problems at age seven influenced emotional problems at age seven. Also, these peer problems at age seven influenced later emotional problems at age 14.

What does this mean?

This paper adds to a lot of other evidence that children and young people with DLD have more difficulties with social and emotional wellbeing than their peers without language difficulties. It also tells us that having difficulties with making friends can lead to negative feelings and emotions. Supporting a child to develop positive peer relationships and friendships may help to improve their emotional wellbeing.

Where can I read this paper?

This is an open access paper so anyone can read it. Click here for the full paper. 

Does emotion regulation affect peer problems and emotional problems?

Forrest, C. L., Gibson, J. L., Halligan, S. L., & St Clair, M. C. (2020). A Cross-Lagged Analysis of Emotion Regulation, Peer Problems, and Emotional Problems in Children With and Without Early Language Difficulties: Evidence From the Millennium Cohort Study. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 63(4), 1227-1239.

Aim of the paper

We wanted to find out if children and young people with DLD develop differently from their peers in terms of social and emotional wellbeing. We know that adolescents with DLD can experience more feelings of anxiety and depression, but we’re not really sure how these difficulties develop. We investigated whether a difficulty with regulating emotions in the early years could be responsible for peer problems and emotional problems in later childhood and adolescence.

Emotion regulation difficulties = Child has trouble controlling their emotions and may over-react or act impulsively.

Emotional problems = Child has many worries, is nervous and feels unhappy or downhearted

Peer problems = Child has difficulty making friends or very few friends, is picked on

 

What was found

Using the Millennium Cohort Study we looked at emotion regulation difficulties, peer problems and emotional problems at 3, 5, 7, 11 and 14 years old. We compared children who were ‘at risk of DLD’ (rDLD) to children with no language difficulties. We found that children at risk of DLD had more difficulty managing their emotions, had more problems with friends and were more likely to experience feelings of worry or sadness than children without language difficulties. Poor emotion regulation at age 3, 5 and 7 was responsible for later peer and emotional problems at age 5, 7, 11 and 14 for both groups. There was a stronger link between poor emotion regulation abilities at age 3 and emotional problems at age 5 for the rDLD group. That is, children who struggled to manage their emotions at age 3 also had more feelings of sadness and worries at age 5.  This effect was stronger in the rDLD group than for the group of children without a language difficulty. A similar finding was found in middle childhood - feelings of sadness and worries at 5 years of age led to more difficulties managing emotions at 7 years of age in children at risk of DLD. We also found that peer and emotional problems were associated with each other across development. That is, children who had difficulties with friends at age 3 also experienced more feelings of sadness and worries at age 5. Similarly, those with more feelings of sadness and worries at age 3 had more difficulties with friends at age 5. So children who have fewer friends felt more sadness but also children who feel sad have fewer friends.

What does this mean?

This paper tells us that children and young people with language difficulties, such as DLD, have more difficulties with friends and poorer emotional wellbeing. We also know that children with language difficulties have more difficulty controlling their emotions than children without language difficulties. These early difficulties controlling emotions can increase feelings of sadness and worry. This might be because they have trouble labelling emotions or experience fewer social situations where they learn to control emotions. Perhaps more focus on naming emotions and modelling social situations could help to improve social and emotional difficulties. However, more research needs to be done in this area to figure out what is causing the difficulties in controlling emotions.

Where can I read this paper?

This is an open access paper so anyone can read it. Click here for the full paper. 

Emotional Health and Self-Efficacy

Botting, N., Durkin, K., Toseeb, U., Pickles, A., & Conti‐Ramsden, G. (2016). Emotional health, support, and self‐efficacy in young adults with a history of language impairment. British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 34(4), 538-554.

Aim of the paper:

 

In this paper we tried to look at factors that might protect young adults with DLD from mental health difficulties, namely self-efficacy and social support.  Self-efficacy is the feeling that we can change things in our lives, and that we have coping strategies to deal with difficulties.  The young adults that took part were 24 years old and were part of the Manchester Language Study. The study had a large sample (lots of participants) – 81 adults with DLD and 87 who didn’t have DLD.

 

What was found:

 

Although adults with DLD had higher risk of being anxious and depressed, this was affected by their feelings of self-efficacy.  The more self-efficacy someone had, the less likely they were to have mental health issues.

 

For social support the picture was not so clear.  Young adults with DLD and their peers with no language difficulties both felt they had adequate support from family and friends.  However, when we looked more closely, the people with the most need were receiving the most support.  This is not surprising really, but it makes it difficult to tell how much difference the support was making to each person.

 

What does this mean?

 

Our findings suggest that emotional health issues might be more frequent in young adults with DLD and that support for this might be needed in workplaces, social settings and family.

 

But it also suggests that encouraging self-efficacy (the feeling that you can change your future) from an early age might act as a protective factor, helping to limit the risk of later mental health problems. This was true for DLD and typical adults, so it may be something that schools could focus on for everyone.

 

We also found that families are doing an amazing job at supporting the young people with DLD – keep up the good work!

 

 

Where can I read this paper?

 

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it. 

Please click here to find the full paper.

Play, Prosocial behaviours and DLD

Toseeb, U., Gibson, J. L., Newbury, D. F., Orlik, W., Durkin, K., Pickles, A., & Conti-Ramsden, G. (2020). Play and prosociality are associated with fewer externalizing problems in children with developmental language disorder: The role of early language and communication environment. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 55(4), 583-602

This paper has been highlighted by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) as an Evidence Alert. Please click here to read the NIHR Alert.

Aim of the paper:

 

This study looks at how the early language and communication environment between 1-2 years old predicts mental health problems during middle childhood (at age 11 years) for children with and without DLD. The early language and communication environment is the amount of different parent-child activities and resources in the child’s environment that can help improve language and communication skills during early childhood.

 

In addition, the researchers included measurements for language and social skills during childhood (at age 7-9 years) to understand whether language ability and social development influence the ‘pathway’ from the early language and communication environment to mental health problems suggested above.

 

What was found:

 

  • In general, children with DLD have a lower level of social skills and more mental health problems compared to children without DLD.

  • The pathway from the early language and communication environment to mental health problems are similar for children with or without DLD.

  • For both groups, a more positive early language and communication environment was associated with higher level of social skills (i.e. prosociality and play competency), which in turn is associated with fewer externalizing problems (mental health problems that are acted out, for example, conduct problems and hyperactivity) during middle childhood.

 

What does this mean?

 

This study suggests that children with DLD generally have more problems in social play and are less prosocial. However, children with DLD with higher level of social play and prosociality are less likely to have externalising problems.  Play and prosocial ability can be encouraged in early childhood with parent-child activities and an enhanced language and communication environment. Moreover, encouraging play and prosocial skills at any age may help children with DLD, particularly in reducing their likelihood of later externalising problems.

Where can I read this paper?

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it. 

Please click here to find the full paper.

Evidence based pathways for interventions for children with Language Disorders

Ebbels, S. H., McCartney, E., Slonims, V., Dockrell, J. E., & Norbury, C. F. (2019). Evidence‐based pathways to intervention for children with language disorders. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 54(1), 3-19.

 

Aim of the paper:

 

This paper looks at existing evidence to understand how effective different interventions are for children with language disorders. The authors also aim to understand the role of speech and language therapist (SLT) in these interventions, and whether interventions delivered by parents and other professionals under the guidance of SLT are effective as well.

 

Based on the reviewed evidence, the authors hope to build a model of service delivery. This will help professionals decide which type of help is the best for different children.

 

What was found:

 

  • The different levels of support are summarised below:

    • T1 - High quality teaching and interaction for all children

    • T2 - Education-led groups with language programme for children with language vulnerabilities

    • T3a - Indirect (not provided by SLTs, but guided by SLTs) individualized intervention for children with mild language difficulties

    • T3b - Direct individualized intervention (provided by SLTs) for children with pervasive language disorder or difficulties

 

  • All children and children with vulnerability can benefit from interventions delivered by well-trained and supported staff from schools.

 

  • Children with mild language difficulties can benefit from interventions when delivered by parents and other professionals under close guidance and support from SLT.

 

  • Children with a pervasive language disorder can benefit from intervention when directly managed and delivered by SLT.

 

What does this mean?

 

Under limited resource, it is difficult for every child to receive direct intervention from SLTs. However, this paper shows that children with different levels of difficulty may benefit from different levels of intervention. Therefore, parents should explore different services for their child, given that professionals are often supported and trained by SLTs to deliver effective interventions. And most importantly, the level of support should match the child’s level of language difficulty.

 

Where can I read this paper?

 

This paper is unfortunately not open access, but the accepted version of the paper can be found here

Can Positive Aspects of Emotional Competence Prevent Internalizing Symptoms?

Samson, A. C., van den Bedem, N. P., Dukes, D., & Rieffe, C. (2020). Positive Aspects of Emotional Competence in Preventing Internalizing Symptoms in Children with and without Developmental Language Disorder: A Longitudinal Approach. Journal of autism and developmental disorders, 1-13.

 

Aim of the paper:

 

Previous research has suggested that children with developmental language disorder (DLD) experience a higher level of internalising problems. Internalising problems are mood problems, such depression and anxiety symptoms. In young children these can sometimes be complaints about their body, such as tummy aches. This study looks at whether positive emotions, emotional awareness, bodily awareness and communication skills protect children with or without DLD from developing internalising problems.

  • Bodily awareness is how much children notice how their body reacts when they experience emotion.

 

What they found:

 

  • Higher level of happiness and emotion awareness, as well as lower level of bodily awareness, are related to lower level of internalising problems (complaints about the body and social anxiety) in children with and without DLD.

  • Problems in emotion communication (being able to talk about emotion) is related to more complaints about the body but not to social anxiety in children with and without DLD.

  • Problems in general communication are related to social anxiety in children with DLD, but only when positive emotions and emotion awareness are also taken into consideration.

 

What does this mean?

 

While better communication skills may help reduce internalising problems, positive emotions and emotion awareness still play an important role in protecting children from internalising problems. Language and communication interventions alone may not be enough to prevent or reduce internalising problems in children with DLD.

 

Therefore, this paper suggests that programmes and activities focusing on improving emotion awareness, alongside programmes focusing on language improvement, may be more promising in terms of reducing internalising problems in children with DLD.

 

Where can I read this paper?

 

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it. 

Please click here to find the full paper.

A possible neurocognitive explanation for DLD

Ullman, M. T., Earle, F. S., Walenski, M., & Janacsek, K. (2020). The Neurocognition of Developmental Disorders of Language. Annual Review of Psychology, Vol 71, 71, 389-417.

 

Aim of the paper:

 

This paper reviews research in relation to a specific idea of what might be the brain and cognitive differences that cause DLD (as well as dyslexia and speech-sound disorders, such as stuttering). The paper looks at what is called the “Procedural circuit Deficit Hypothesis”.  This hypothesis states that the language learning difficulties in individuals with DLD are due to differences in the brain circuitry that supports procedural memory. However, a different memory system (declarative memory) is not affected in individuals with DLD. This paper reviews evidence that supports this idea.

  • Procedural memory is behind how we learn to do things automatically, such as typing on a keyboard or riding a bicycle.  It also helps us learn patterns on an implicit level, or without knowing we are learning things.

  • Declarative memory is most easily understood as things we know, such as facts about the world or our autobiographical memories. For instance, your address and your memories of your last birthday were learned in your declarative memory system.

  • Both memory systems are important for learning new things, such as language in early childhood. Memory and learning seem like separate things, but they are linked together in our minds!

 

What was found:

 

Procedural memory is more developed in younger children.  Declarative memory needs more time and develops across childhood. If language learning is initially reliant on procedural memory, difficulties in this system in children with DLD may cause early delays in language development.

 

Procedural memory has been shown to be important for grammar learning. For instance, the better a person’s procedural memory, the better they use and understand grammar. However, grammar can be learned in both the procedural and declarative memory systems.  As the declarative system needs time to develop in early childhood, this may be why there are delays in learning grammar in children with DLD.

 

Individuals with DLD have been shown to have structural differences in parts of the brain associated with procedural memory.  However, researchers have not found consistent differences in the brains systems associated with declarative memory and learning.   Overall, there is good evidence that problems with procedural learning may be the key problem in language learning in children with DLD.

 

What does this mean?

 

These ideas do not mean that children with DLD can’t learn from their procedural memory systems. But the ideas do indicate that their procedural learning is not as efficient as in children without DLD.  Children with DLD are likely relying on the declarative learning and memory system, which tend to be used later in development.  This may be why children with DLD learn language a bit later and with more effort than those without DLD. 

 

Understanding the underlying reasons why children with DLD struggle to learn language is key for suitable therapy and treatment of DLD.  Indeed, the authors suggest that there are “pharmacological, behavioural and other interventions” that can help enhance procedural and declarative memory ability. These interventions could be useful in children with DLD.

 

Where can I read this paper?

 

This paper is not open access, but can be accessed here

What elements predict concerns about the transition to secondary school? 

Gough Kenyon, S. M., Lucas, R. M., & Palikara, O. (2020). Expectations of the transition to secondary school in children with developmental language disorder and low language ability. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(2), 249-265.

 

Aim of the paper:

 

There is little research on the transition from primary to secondary school for children with DLD. Such research is important as a successful transition may relate to academic, psychological and social outcomes in children with DLD. This paper looks at the expectation of transition and predictors of transition concerns in children with DLD, children with low language ability and typically developing children.

 

Example of predictors:

  • Scholastic competence: the child’s perception of their ability to do schoolwork

  • Emotion competence: the child’s perception of their ability to recognize and regulate emotion

  • Social competence: the child’s perception of their ability to engage in social interactions

 

What they found:

 

  • Children with DLD have the highest level of concern for transition to secondary school

  • For children with DLD, scholastic competence is the most important predictor of overall transition concerns.

  • Although children with DLD or low language ability have lower social competence compared to typically developing children, social competence only predicted overall transition concerns for typically developing children

  • Emotion competence does not predict overall transition concern. But for children with DLD it does predict concerns regarding new rules and expectations.

 

 

What does this mean?

 

The results from this study suggest that concerns regarding the transition from primary to secondary stem from different factors for different population of children. For children with DLD, scholastic competence plays a key role in their transition, whilst emotion competence also plays a partial role.

 

Given that children with DLD are more likely to have a high level of transition concern, parents should be aware of their children’s self-confidence in academic ability and emotional skills, especially when their children are approaching the age of transition to secondary school.

 

 

Where can I read this paper?

 

This paper is not open access, but can be accessed here.

Are young adults with DLD more or less likely to commit criminal offenses?

Winstanley, M., Webb, R. T., & Conti‐Ramsden, G. (2018). More or less likely to offend? Young adults with a history of identified developmental language disorders. International journal of language & communication disorders, 53(2), 256-270.

 

Aim of the paper:

 

Previous research tells us that a surprisingly large number of juvenile offenders have undetected and undiagnosed language disorders. This means these young people did not receive any language intervention. This paper looks at whether young adults with identified DLD who received intervention during their school years are more likely to have contact with local police services, to engage in substance use, rule breaking behaviour and aggression. This paper compared these young adults with DLD to peers without DLD at the age of 24.

 

What they found:

 

  • Young adults with identified DLD who received intervention during school years are 2.5 times less likely to have been in trouble with the polices compared to their peers without DLD.

 

  • Young adults with DLD do not differ from their peers without DLD in terms of substance use and rule breaking behaviour.

 

  • Young adults with DLD have higher aggression score than their peers without DLD. But there is no difference between the two groups when only considering severe aggression that requires clinical intervention.

 

What does this mean?

 

The results from this paper show that people with DLD do not have a higher risk of contact with local police compared to people without DLD.

 

The authors suggest that early identification and intervention for DLD may reduce the likelihood of offending. They believe that this is because early intervention programmes may help children develop skills that might prevent later offending, such as emotional self-regulation. Emotional self-regulation is the ability to regulate emotions within ourselves according to different social situations.

 

However, this paper is the first published study on the relationship between identified DLD and offending in the UK. More research is needed to confirm that early identification and intervention for DLD really reduces the likelihood of offending.

 

Where can I read this paper?

 

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it. 

Please click here to find the full paper.

How aware is the public of DLD?  A survey of public awareness in European Countries

Thordardottir, E., & Topbaş, S. (2020). How aware is the public of the existence, characteristics and causes of language impairment in childhood and where have they heard about it? A European survey. Journal of Communication Disorders, 106057.

 

Aim of the paper:

 

Public awareness is important for clinical services. Being aware means that people can recognize warning signs of disorders and know where to seek help. This paper looks at how aware the European public is of the existence, nature and cause of DLD. They compare DLD to other disorders, such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia and speech disorders. This is done by a survey across 18 countries of Europe.

 

What they found:

 

  • Overall, only 59% of the participants heard of DLD (or childhood language impairment), which is lower than the other four disorders. For example, 95% of participants heard of ASD.

 

  • Being a female, having a child aged 18 years or below, having higher income and having higher education levels are factors associated with higher awareness of DLD.

 

  • People heard of DLD more from media and the internet, and less from child’s school or medical professionals. This pattern is similar to how people heard of autism.

 

What does this mean?

 

The results from this study suggests that public awareness for DLD is low. However, this study was conducted right after the CATALISE study. Efforts to increase public awareness of DLD may not have started yet. More recent research is needed to understand how public awareness for DLD might have changed following the CATALISE study. The CATALISE is a study that led to consensus on the use of the term DLD and the diagnostic criteria for DLD. It was conducted by an international group of experts, led by Professor Dorothy Bishop.

 

This study also suggest that people have heard about DLD and autism from similar sources. It is likely that the difference in awareness between DLD and autism is due to the small amount of media coverage on DLD. So, greater media coverage may help increase public awareness for DLD. Lastly, more effort is needed to reach groups with lower education level, as they are likely to have lower awareness for DLD even if they are at higher risk for DLD. 

 

Where can I read this paper?

 

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it. 

Please click here to find the full paper.

Early language skills and emotional recognition in children with and without DLD

Griffiths, S., Goh, S. K. Y., & Norbury, C. F. (2020). Early language competence, but not general cognitive ability, predicts children’s recognition of emotion from facial and vocal cues. PeerJ, 8.

 

Aim of the paper:

 

Recognising emotions from facial and verbal expressions are important for social interactions. Some researchers think that language plays an important role in emotion recognition because it helps us understand how our emotions match other people’s emotions. Since children with DLD have shown difficulty with emotion recognition in past research, this paper looked at whether early language skills predict later emotion recognition skills for children with and without DLD.

 

What they found:

 

  • Early language skills (at age 5-6) predicted later skills in recognising facial and verbal emotions (at age 10-12) for both children with and without DLD. In contrast, early non-verbal cognitive ability did not predict later emotion recognition skills.

 

  • Children with DLD had poorer emotion recognition skills for both facial and verbal emotion when compared to children without DLD at the same age.

 

  • Children with and without DLD have similar pattern of errors in emotion recognition, such as not understanding facial emotions of disgust most frequently.

 

 

What does this mean?

 

This paper shows that poor early language does predict poor emotion recognition skills later in life. As mentioned, having poor emotion recognition skills may pose difficulty for social development. It may be that poor early language in children with DLD can also explain their increased risk in poor social and emotional outcomes.

 

Can intervention that helps children develop their language skills also help with their emotion recognition skills? Findings from this study could not answer this question. However, the researchers found one study that suggests an intervention focusing on emotion-related language skills could help children improve in emotion recognition. Still, further evidence is needed to see whether language intervention can improve children’s emotion recognition in the long term.

 

Where can I read this paper?

 

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it. 

Please click here to find the full paper.

Autism Spectrum Disorder and Developmental Language Disorder

Conti-Ramsden, G., Simkin, Z., & Botting, N. (2006). The prevalence of autistic spectrum disorders in adolescents with a history of specific language impairment (SLI). Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47(6), 621-628.

 

Aim of the paper:

 

This paper looks at 76 children with DLD (or SLI as discussed in this paper) recruited from language units attached to mainstream schools when they were 7.  When they were 14, these children were evaluated for Autism using an observational measure (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule) as well as a parent report of their child’s behaviour (Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised).  The aim of this paper is to look at the prevalence of Autism diagnosis and symptoms in a sample of children identified as having DLD.  

 

What was found:

  • About 70% of the sample showed no signs of Autism at all.

  • About 26% showed some signs of Autism but did meet criteria for diagnosis

  • Most of the 26% children showing some signs of autism met criteria on the social and communication aspects of an Autism Diagnosis, but fewer met criteria on the “stereotyped behaviours”.

  • The rate of Autism at age 14 was 3.9% in this sample of children with identified DLD (not Autism) at age 7. 

 

What does this mean?

 

It is important to remember that children should show signs of Autism by age 7, when all children were initial recruited.  At both age 7 and age 14, these children had no official diagnosis of Autism.  The results suggest that some children with DLD may develop more Autistic-like behaviours as they develop, particularly in relation to social and communication difficulties.  However, the majority of children with DLD do not develop these symptoms. The authors did find an elevated rate of children who met criteria for Autism, which was about 4 times the prevalence rate for Autism.

 

This paper indicates that some children with DLD may develop traits that look like Autism, but parents should be reassured that this does not mean they would meet criteria for Autism.  The difficulties these children exhibit – social and communication difficulties - are common in children with DLD as well as children with Autism.  However, a minority of children with DLD do seem to develop a profile that is consistent with a full autism diagnosis.  This indicates if parent does have severe concerns, it be worth considering an autism assessment later in development.

 

Where can I read this paper?

 

This paper is not open access and was published before it was standard practice to host an accepted version online that could be easily accessed.  If you wish to read the full paper, please email E-DLD@bath.ac.uk.

SLT experiences in diagnosis and assessing children with DLD

Thomas, S., Schulz, J., & Ryder, N. (2019). Assessment and diagnosis of Developmental Language Disorder: The experiences of speech and language therapists. Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, 4, 2396941519842812.

 

Aim of the paper:

Speech and language therapists (SLTs) are important in the assessment and diagnosis of DLD. However, there is little research on the assessment process for DLD from the SLTs’ perspective. Therefore, the authors want to look at the experience of SLT in assessing and diagnosing children with DLD. To do so, the authors invited 17 SLTs from NHS trusts for group discussions.

 

What they found:

There are three key points that SLTs mentioned when talking about their experience in assessing DLD:

  1. Barriers to early referral:

SLTs suggested that parents and the general public are still not aware of DLD and the help that SLTs can offer. Some parents also think that language delay will resolve itself. The lack of awareness and knowledge prevents parents from seeking the right intervention for their children. This is a problem because early intervention is important for positive outcomes, according to most SLTs.

   2. Factors in assessment:

SLTs all agreed that standardized language tests provide important indicators of DLD. But observing children’s behaviours also provides important information for assessment. The SLTs suggest that different SLTs may use different tests, partly because children with DLD are different from one another in terms of both verbal and non-verbal difficulties.

   3. Concern over continued future support:

All SLTs are concerned that the children with DLD may struggle later in life. Children with DLD are more likely to face difficulties in learning and building relationships, and these difficulties may affect their career and employment as well. Some of the SLTs also suggest that as the world is becoming more focused on communication and relationship building, children with DLD are becoming more disadvantaged.

 

What does this mean?

This paper shows that there is still a lack of understanding about DLD among parents and the general public. The SLTs in this paper suggest that greater understanding about DLD as well as speech and language therapy may help parents access professional help earlier for their children with DLD.

While it is important for parents to ask for SLTs’ help as language tests are an important aspect of assessment, parents may also help by paying attention to their child’s behaviour. This piece of information can be valuable for SLTs when deciding what assessments are best for the child.

Also, this paper shows that continuous support for children with DLD is needed, as SLTs generally agree that language difficulties may affect multiple areas in an individual life even after childhood.

 

Where can I read this paper?

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it. 

Please click here to find the full paper.

Can family involvement improve school adjustment in adolescents with DLD?

Valera-Pozo, M., Adrover-Roig, D., Pérez-Castelló, J. A., Sanchez-Azanza, V. A., & Aguilar-Mediavilla, E. (2020). Behavioral, Emotional and School Adjustment in Adolescents with and without Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) Is Related to Family Involvement. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(6), 1949.

 

 

Aim of the paper: 

 

Although young people with DLD are more likely to show adjustment difficulties, not all of them experience the same level and duration of adjustment difficulties. Previous research suggested that this may be influenced by family factors, such as parental education. In this paper, the authors look at how family involvement and socioeconomic status (SES) may influence behavioural and emotional difficulties, school adjustment as well as adaptive skills in adolescents with and without DLD.

 

Family involvement = behaviours, concerns and participation at school and home that help children in their education.

 

Socioeconomic status = a person’s relative ranking in the society according to their education, income and occupation.

 

Adaptive skills = everyday skills that people need to live well, such as taking care of themselves and interacting with other.

 

 

What they found: 

 

  • Teachers reported that adolescents with DLD showed poorer school adjustment and adaptive skills compared to adolescents without DLD.

 

  • Adolescents with DLD reported more emotional problems than adolescents without DLD

 

  • Higher family involvement was related to lower behavioural and emotional problems and better school adjustments in both groups. SES was not related to adjustment outcomes.

 

 

What does this mean?

 

 This paper found that adolescents with DLD are more likely to face adjustment difficulties when compared to their peers without DLD. Interestingly, school adjustment difficulties and poor adaptive skills were only noticed by the adolescents’ teacher, while emotional problems were only noticed by adolescents themselves. This shows that it is important to involve different people when trying to understand the struggles of adolescents with DLD.

 

The author suggested that family involvement can help protect adolescents, with and without DLD, from adjustment difficulties as well as emotional problem. Parents are encouraged to be more involved in helping with their child in their education for more positive adjustment outcomes. This might help close the gap in adjustment difficulties between adolescents with and without DLD.

 

 

Where can I read this paper?

 

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it.   

Please click here to find the full paper. 

Rates of re-offending in young offenders with undiagnosed DLD

Winstanley, M., Webb, R. T., & Conti‐Ramsden, G. (2020). Developmental language disorders and risk of recidivism among young offenders. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

 

 

Aim of the paper: 

 

Previous research tells us that the percentage of young offenders with undiagnosed DLD is higher than expected. Yet, this research did not look into whether the offenders are reoffending or first time offenders. This paper looks at whether DLD is related to reoffending by following up on 146 young offenders to assess how many of them have undiagnosed DLD and how many of them reoffend within a 52-week period.

 

 

What they found: 

 

  • 60% of the youth offenders had DLD, but their DLD was undiagnosed. Only 2 participants saw a speech and language therapist during primary school years.

 

  • 46% of the participants reoffended. 62% of participants with undiagnosed DLD reoffended, while 25% of participants without DLD reoffended. Participants with undiagnosed DLD are more likely to reoffend compared to participants without DLD.

 

  • Factors commonly associated with reoffending, such as nonverbal IQ, age of first offence and adversity, could not account for the higher rates of reoffending for participants with undiagnosed DLD.

 

 

What does this mean?

 

This paper shows that the portion of young offenders with undiagnosed DLD is above average. Young offenders with undiagnosed DLD are more likely to reoffend compared to young offenders without DLD. The author suggests that young offenders with DLD may be perceived as rude or lazy, as they fail to follow demands of the youth justice system due to their language limitations. This may disadvantage the young person when facing the youth justice system in the future.

 

It is important to note that this study looked at undiagnosed DLD. The majority of these young offenders did not receive language interventions that could help them improve or even understand their language limitations. Previous research from the same authors tells us that young people who received diagnosis and intervention for DLD are less likely to be in trouble with the police. So, early assessment and intervention for DLD are highly encouraged.  Offending behaviour seems to be only increased in individuals with undiagnosed DLD.

 

 

Where can I read this paper?

 

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it.   

Please click here to find the full paper.

Listening to professionals, children and families to improve services for DLD in schools

Gallagher, A. L., Murphy, C. A., Conway, P. F., & Perry, A. (2019). Engaging multiple stakeholders to improve speech and language therapy services in schools: an appreciative inquiry-based study. BMC health services research, 19(1), 226.

 

Aim of the paper:

 

Speech language therapists (SLTs) and teachers both play an important role in providing support for children with DLD in school, but they rarely work together. As a result, children with DLD may receiving less SLT service and support in school than needed. This paper aims to involve SLTs, teachers, parents and children with DLD in designing their ideal SLT service and support in school. This is done by having parents, SLTs and teachers take part in five group discussions, and having children with DLD take part in interviews.

 

What they found:

 

Four key ideas appeared during the group discussions and interview:

 

1) The ideal support:

The ideal support should be tailored to the child’s needs and interest. Tasks in school should be challenging yet possible to succeed. It is also important that the support targets difficulties other than language, such as social difficulties.

 

2) The ideal setting:

Parents, SLTs and teachers suggested that the ideal classroom setting should encourage listening and noticing. Children with DLD suggested that the ideal setting should be safe for taking risks, have consistent and clear rules, and allow children to have control in decisions. All the participants agreed that the ideal setting should be inclusive.

 

3) Priority outcomes:

Parents, SLTs and teachers said that a priority outcome is for children to connect with others. For example, children should have the opportunity to participate in class. Another priority outcome mentioned by children and parents is to understand social situations as well as other people. Other priority outcomes for children include managing their needs in school independently and learning to stand up for themselves.

 

4) The ideal service:

Parents, teachers and SLTs suggested that an ideal service should take the child’s needs as its most important consideration. An ideal service should also be caring for the child and should involve the child and his/her parents in the process. However, SLTs, parents and teachers differed in their view of the SLTs role. While parents and teachers want the SLTs to be working in the classroom, SLTs suggested that they should act as advisors.

 

 

What does this mean?

 

There are both similar and differing views between SLTs, teachers, parents and children with DLD in terms of their ideal services and supports in school. Similar views may provide a common ground for these groups to work together to improve support for children with DLD in schools.

 

The authors suggest that different groups might have different views because they have different experiences and a different focus. For example, children with DLD experience difficulties in school directly without knowing how supports for them are planned. Teachers and SLTs focus on planning support for children with DLD without experiencing their difficulties directly. Although these differences make it difficult for different groups to work together, addressing these differences may help improve SLT services and supports in school. So, parents are encouraged to express their views on SLT services and supports in school when suitable. Also, teachers and SLTs are encouraged to listen to children with DLD. Children should be able to have their say on the supports they are given in school.

 

 

Where can I read this paper?

 

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it. 

Please click here to find the full paper.

Exploring sensory profiles

Simpson, K., Paynter, J., Ziegenfusz, S., & Westerveld, M. (2020). Sensory Profiles in School-Age Children with Developmental Language Disorder. International Journal of Disability, Development and Education, 1-10.

 

 

Aim of the paper:

 

Previous research finds children with developmental conditions, such as autism and ADHD, frequently experiences sensory differences. Yet, there is little research on the sensory profile of children with DLD. This paper looks at the sensory profiles of children with DLD, and whether their sensory profiles are related to their language skills.

 

Sensory profile = response to sensory information (touch, taste, smell, sound, sight, balance and movement)

 

What they found:

 

  • Overall, 60% of children with DLD experienced differences in response to sensory information when compared to children without DLD.

 

  • A majority of children with DLD have normal sensory sensitivity. But more than 50% of children experienced different responses to sensory stimuli in areas such as “auditory filtering”. Auditory filtering includes things like being able to concentrate when there is background noise.

 

  • On average, the overall score in sensory profile for children with DLD is lower than the normal range, meaning more sensory differences.

 

  • Sensory profile and language skills were not related.

 

 

What does this mean?

 

The findings of this paper suggest that many children with DLD face challenges in responding to sensory stimuli. This shows that children with DLD may affect multiple areas of development, not just language.

 

Previous studies suggested that abnormal sensory profile is related to poorer communication, and emotional/behavioural outcomes in autistic children and children with ADHD. Although little research has found similar relationships in children with DLD, identification of their unique sensory profiles may be important when providing tailored support during interventions.

 

 

Where can I read this paper?

This paper is not open access so we cannot provide a link at this time.

If you wish to read the full paper, please email E-DLD@bath.ac.uk.

Markers to find DLD

Conti‐Ramsden, G., Botting, N., & Faragher, B. (2001). Psycholinguistic markers for specific language impairment (SLI). Journal of child psychology and psychiatry, 42(6), 741-748.

 

Aim of the paper:

 

Many children have language delay but their language skills catch up over time. For other children language delay is the first sign of a language disorder. Finding markers for language disorder is important for diagnosis and intervention. There has been research on markers for DLD but there are still question that remained unanswered, such as whether combining multiple markers can lead to better prediction. This paper aims to understand whether nonword repetition, sentence repetition and tense marking ability could act as markers for developmental language disorder (DLD). Primary school children with and without DLD were assessed.

 

Marker: a trait that shows that a person has, or will likely have, a disorder.

 

Nonword repetition: assessed by having the researcher say a nonword (for example, “zog”) and the child needs to repeat it.

 

Tense marking ability: the ability to identify and use tense markers, such as “-ed” for past tense.

 

 

What they found:

 

  • All markers were accurate in finding children with severe DLD, but only nonword repetition and sentence repetition were useful in finding children with mild or resolved DLD.

 

  • The most accurate marker for DLD was sentence repetition. It correctly identified 90% of the children with DLD and 85% of the children without DLD. Nonword repetition was the second most accurate marker, followed by tense marking ability.

 

  • Combining markers led to higher accuracy in finding DLD, but the most successful combination was only 1% more accurate than sentence repetition alone.

 

 

What does this mean?

 

It is interesting that the two tasks that involve short term memory (our ability to hold something in our mind for a short time) - sentence repetition and nonword repetition - are the two most accurate markers for identifying children with DLD, even if it is mild or resolved. This finding suggests that children with DLD of any severity may show underlying limitations in short-term memory. With further research, these repetition tasks may help identify children who have mild DLD, or even children at risk of having DLD before we can tell the difference between delay and disorder.

 

Although the markers in this paper are accurate in identifying DLD, other studies have found that these markers are not specific to DLD. Some of these markers may also be a characteristic of reading problems or more global learning difficulties.  Having a formal assessment of these markers is still important for understanding whether a child has DLD and what areas he or she struggles in.

 

 

Where can I read this paper?

This paper is not open access and was published before it was standard practice to host an accepted version online that could be easily accessed.

If you wish to read the full paper, please email E-DLD@bath.ac.uk.

DLD and dyslexia

Adlof, S. M. (2020). Promoting Reading Achievement in Children With Developmental Language Disorders: What Can We Learn From Research on Specific Language Impairment and Dyslexia?. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 63(10), 3277-3292.

 

Aim of the paper:

 

Both Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) and dyslexia are disorders that can affect reading comprehension. It is now known that the disorders are different but often occur together. However, these two disorders have largely been studied separately. This paper aims to integrate research on DLD and dyslexia as well as to promote the need of considering both disorders together in the future.

 

What they found:

 

  • DLD and dyslexia are related to reading comprehension in different ways. DLD influences language comprehension, while dyslexia influences word reading.

 

  • More research is needed to understand whether language and cognitive factors can help distinguish DLD and dyslexia. However, a common finding from available research is that children with both DLD and dyslexia show the greatest weakness in language, cognitive and academic measures when compared to typically developing children, and children with only one disorder.

 

  • Speech and language disorders, especially DLD, are underdiagnosed. This is because there is a lack of public awareness for speech and language disorders and it is difficult for parents and teachers to recognize language impairments if there are no co-occurring speech sound problems.

 

  • More research is still needed to develop accurate and easy-to-use measurement tools for use in schools to find DLD or dyslexia.

 

What does this mean:

 

More research that looks at children is still needed to improve our understanding about the characteristics and causes of DLD and dyslexia. Knowing about how DLD and dyslexia develop may help improve diagnosis and intervention for these conditions.

 

A core finding of this paper is the under-identification of DLD. Not only does this present a challenge for research, it also means that some children with DLD are unable to receive the help that they need. To tackle this issue, speech and language therapists should help increase awareness of the role of oral language skills on reading comprehension. Also, all children known to have reading problems should be given an assessment of their language skills. Knowing that DLD and dyslexia often occur together could help to stop DLD from being hidden.

 

Where can I read this paper:

 

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it.

Please click here to find the full paper.

Social cognition and socio-emotional functioning

Bakopoulou, I., & Dockrell, J. E. (2016). The role of social cognition and prosocial behaviour in relation to the socio-emotional functioning of primary aged children with specific language impairment. Research in developmental disabilities, 49, 354-370.

 

Aim of the paper:

 

Studies have shown that children with DLD have difficulty in socio-emotional functioning, but the reason behind this is unclear. Language ability alone cannot predict socioemotional functioning and other factors, such as age and social cognition, seem to play a role as well. This study aims to understand the relationship between social cognition, language ability, cognitive ability, prosocial behaviour, and socio-emotional functioning of primary school children with and without DLD.

 

Social cognition: Behaviour related to the understanding of emotional or mental states in others. In this study, four aspects of social cognition are assessed: labelling emotions, identifying emotions, inferring the cause of emotions, and resolving conflict.

 

 

What they found:

 

  • Children with DLD performed worse than children with DLD in all social cognitive tasks: Children with DLD are less skilled in understanding other people’s emotions. The children with DLD were also worse at knowing how to manage conflict situations.

 

  • Children with DLD have more difficulties in socio-emotional functioning compared to children without DLD. This includes conduct problems, hyperactivity, emotional symptoms and peer relationship Problems

 

  • Lower social cognitive abilities and reduced prosocial behaviour predicts more socio-emotional difficulties in children with DLD. Language ability did not predict socio-emotional functioning in children with DLD.

 

  • Age did not affect social cognition, prosocial behaviour, or socio-emotional difficulties of children with DLD.

 

 

What does this mean?

 

The findings of this study suggest that children with DLD process social information differently to children without DLD. Future research should look more at the reasons for these difficulties. When children have difficulties understanding how other’s feel, or problems managing conflict situations, they might struggle with their friendships. These findings show that DLD impacts on more than just language skills.

 

 

The authors find that social cognition and prosocial behaviour predicts the socio-emotional difficulties experienced by children with DLD. Parents and professionals should keep in mind that children with DLD may need support to develop their social cognition and prosocial behaviours. This finding is supported by recent research that shows that higher levels of prosocial behaviour may be protective against psychosocial difficulties.

 

 

Where can I read this paper:

 

This paper is not open access so we cannot provide a link at this time.

If you wish to read the full paper, please email E-DLD@bath.ac.uk.

How one preschool language unit supports children

Harvey, H., & Spencer, S. (2019). Specialist provision for language disorder: Staff and service user views of a preschool language unit. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, 35(2), 93-111.

 

Aim of the paper:

 

Preschool language units (PLU) are designed to support children with severe and complex language disorders in mainstream schools by providing speech and language therapy and curriculum delivery. This paper aims to understand how a PLU supports children with language disorder. Children and teaching staff are asked for their views using interviews. Parents are asked for their views using questionnaires.

 

 

What they found:

 

The participants brought up four key points:

 

1. Inclusion

Teaching staff and parents suggested that the format of the PLU helped children to become more confident and helped their language skills develop. Children have mixed opinions about joining the mainstream nursery in the day. Some children enjoy having more friends and outdoor space in the mainstream section. Others prefer the quiet in the PLU.

 

2. The importance of relationships

Children, parents and teaching staff all found relationships built within the PLU valuable. Parents value their relationships with teachers. Children value their relationships with teachers and friends. Teaching staff value their relationships within the staff team. Teaching staff believed that good communication between a team of professionals, including a Speech and Language Therapist, was very important for supporting the children’s language development.

 

3. Challenges of access

Parents and teaching staff agreed that the PLU has a low number of pupils. Opinions on whether this is needed varied. Some thought that a bigger group would be better. Others thought that keeping a low number is more manageable for staff and pupils. Although the PLU is oversubscribed, limitations such as space, resources and class management prevent wider access to the PLU.

 

4. School readiness

Parents and teaching staff considered the PLU to be preparation for moving into mainstream schools. PLU was considered important for supporting the development of children’s language skills as well as other specific skills required in a school setting, such as sitting still.

 

 

What does this mean?

 

The PLU in this paper is highly regarded by the children, parents as well as teaching staff, who believe the PLU gives positive early educational and social experiences. Features that are perceived to be important for the success of the PLU include: class size, consistent daily routine, approachable staff and extra support for socialising.

 

This paper only studied one PLU and the responses received may not apply to all other PLUs. However, this paper is useful for giving the first rich description of a specialist preschool resource base for children with language disorders.

 

 

Where can I read this paper?

 

This paper has been made open access, which means everyone can read it.

Please click here to find the full paper.

 

Peer social networks and DLD

Chen, J., Justice, L. M., Rhoad‐Drogalis, A., Lin, T. J., & Sawyer, B. (2020). Social networks of children with developmental language disorder in inclusive preschool programs. Child development, 91(2), 471-487.

Aim of the paper:

 

Previous studies have suggested that children with DLD are more likely to struggle in social interactions and peer relations. As a result, the chances of experiencing peer rejection and victimization is concerning. This paper aims to understand the peer social network of children with DLD with their typically developing classmates in an inclusive preschool classroom.

Peer social network: play interactions formed by children within a classroom.

 

 

What they found:

 

  • Stronger language ability and communication skills within a social context were related to more social network ties of a child. The relationships were weak but statistically significant.

 

  • Children with DLD had smaller social networks than typically developing children, and they tended to interact with classmates who also had DLD.

 

  • Children with DLD were more likely to be isolated from the classroom social network. 37% of children with DLD in this study were experiencing isolation, as compared to 18% of typically developing children.

 

 

What does this mean?

The findings of the paper raise concerns about the peer social networks of children with DLD, as there are nearly twice as many children with DLD experiencing isolation than typically developing children in their preschool years. The 37% rate of peer isolation in children with DLD is similar to the rate of peer interaction problems seen in older children with DLD in other studies. This suggests that problems with peer interaction commonly seen in children with DLD may appear as early as the preschool years and are likely to persist throughout childhood.

 

Children’s peer relationships can influence their academic and social outcomes. It is important for educators to be aware of the problem of peer rejection and isolation for children with DLD. Interventions that promote social competence and social problem-solving skills may be introduced to help children with DLD develop positive peer interactions.

 

 

Where can I read this paper?

This paper is not open access so we cannot provide a link at this time.

If you wish to read the full paper, please email E-DLD@bath.ac.uk.

Predicting reading outcomes

Erisman, M. C., & Blom, E. (2020). Reading outcomes in children with developmental language disorder: A person-centered approach. Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, 5, 1-18.

 

Aim of the paper:

 

Many children with DLD develop reading problems. However, children with DLD differ greatly from one another in multiple areas, including areas related to reading problems, e.g. phonological memory, spoken language and executive functions. This paper aims to understand which children with DLD are more likely to develop reading problems by:

 

1. Finding out how children with DLD can be divided into subgroups based on their oral language, phonological memory and executive function.

 

2. Finding out whether these subgroups differ in non-verbal IQ and reading outcomes two years later.

 

Key terms-

 

Phonological memory: The ability to temporarily hold speech-related information.

 

Executive function: A set of mental skills needed for controlling behaviour.

 

Working memory: The ability to keep information in your mind while doing complex tasks, like learning and reasoning.

 

 

What they found:

 

  • Four subgroups were found:

    • Group 1: Weak performance overall

    • Group 2: Average language and phonological memory with strong executive function

    • Group 3: Average language, phonological memory and attention with low working memory ability

    • Group 4: Strong performance overall

 

  • Group 1 had the lowest non-verbal IQ, followed by group 3, group 4 and group 2.

 

  • Group 1 had the poorest reading outcome, followed by group 3. This means children with DLD with a weak performance on all measures and children with average language and phonological memory but mild working memory difficulties are most at-risk of reading problems. The children in groups 2 and 4 had similar reading scores to children without DLD.

 

 

What does this mean?

 

The findings of this paper suggest that subgroups can be identified based on children’s oral language, phonological memory and executive function. Also, the varying combinations of these differing levels of abilities might explain the different reading outcomes seen in each subgroup.

 

The authors say that we need a person-centred approach to understand reading abilities in children with DLD. A focus on individual patterns of strengths and weaknesses will be useful for predicting reading problems in children with DLD.

 

 

Where can I read this paper?

 

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it. 

Please click here to find the full paper.

Intervention for spoken language and reading difficulties

Munro, N., Lee, K., & Baker, E. (2008). Building vocabulary knowledge and phonological awareness skills in children with specific language impairment through hybrid language intervention: A feasibility study. International journal of language & communication disorders, 43(6), 662-682. 

 

Aim of the paper: 

 

Children with DLD often struggle with spoken language and are at risk of reading difficulties. However, there is little research on interventions that target both spoken language and emergent reading abilities. This paper aims to determine whether a hybrid language intervention that targets vocabulary knowledge and phonological awareness should be further researched. 

 

Emergent reading abilities: abilities that precedes and contributes to the development of reading skills. 

Phonological awareness: the ability to use and reflect upon the sounds of spoken language. This ability is important for reading skills. 

 

What they found: 

 

  • After the intervention, children improved in phonological awareness and vocabulary knowledge. 

  • The children also improved in skills that were not targeted in the intervention, for example listening comprehension and storytelling. 

 

What does this mean? 

 

The findings of this paper provide initial support for a hybrid language intervention that targets vocabulary knowledge and phonological awareness. As children with DLD have different language difficulties, hybrid language interventions can be useful as speech and language therapists can help support both their spoken and written language needs. Further research and clinical trials may help determine the effectiveness of this intervention. 

 

Where can I read this paper? 

 

This paper is not open access but you can access this paper here.

Cell phone use in adolescents with DLD

Conti-Ramsden, G., Durkin, K., & Simkin, Z. (2010). Language and social factors in the use of cell phone technology by adolescents with and without specific language impairment (SLI). Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 53(1), 196-208. 

 

Aim of the paper: 

 

Mobile technology has affected how people communicate and connect with one another. While many studies have looked at the use of mobile/cell phones by adolescents, little is known about adolescents with DLD. This paper aims to compare mobile/cell phone use in adolescents with and without DLD. This paper also looks at whether language factors and social factors affect mobile/cell phone use in adolescents. 

 

Language factors include oral language, reading, and spelling ability.  

Social factors include shyness, friendships, and social motivation to use a cell phone. 

 

 

What they found: 

  

  • Adolescents with DLD are motivated to use mobile/cell phones. They use mobile/cell phones for both phoning and texting.  

 

  • Adolescents with and without DLD prefer texting over phoning. Both groups gave similar reasons for their preference for texting. For example, they think it is quicker, more convenient, and better because pictures or symbols can be used. 

 

  • Adolescents with DLD send and receive text-messages less frequently compared to adolescents without DLD. Also, adolescents with DLD are less motivated to use their cell phones socially to engage with friends and plan activities. 

 

  • Social factors, but not language factors, are associated with frequency of texting in adolescents. The frequency of phoning is not related to either social or language factors. 

 

What does this mean? 

 

Like their peers without DLD, adolescents with DLD are motivated to use mobile/cell phones for their convenience, freedom, privacy, and safety. The findings of this paper suggest that frequency of cell phone use in adolescents with DLD is not related to their language ability. The authors suggest that it is because the language requirement for communication via cell phones is more relaxed, such that adolescents with DLD do not find texting and phoning difficult. 

 

However, adolescents with DLD text less frequently due to social factors, such as shyness and friendship difficulties. The less frequent use of texting may later reduce their opportunity for social interaction, given that texting is an important method for social connection among adolescents. It is important to address potential social difficulties when supporting adolescents with DLD. 

 

Where can I read this paper? 

 

This paper is not open access so we cannot provide a link at this time. 

If you wish to read the full paper, please email E-DLD@bath.ac.uk

Young adults with DLD: managing finances

Winstanley, M., Durkin, K., Webb, R. T., & Conti-Ramsden, G. (2018). Financial capability and functional financial literacy in young adults with developmental language disorder. Autism & Developmental Language Impairments.

 

Aim of the paper:

 

It is known that many individuals with DLD struggle in reading, writing and maths. Since these abilities are important for making financial decisions, it is expected that many individuals with DLD will have difficulties managing their finances. This paper aims to test this expectation by looking at the financial capability, functional financial literacy and financial support of young adults (22-26 year olds) with and without DLD.

 

Financial capability: the ability to make appropriate financial decisions, such as managing money, planning ahead and using financial products.

 

Functional financial literacy: the ability to deal with everyday money transactions.

 

Financial support: the support gained from others for financial tasks.

 

 

What they found:

 

  • Young adults with DLD did not differ from their peers without DLD in how well they thought they could manage money and plan ahead.

 

  • Young adults with DLD had less engagement with financial products and poorer functional financial literacy compared to their peers without DLD.

 

  • Young adults with DLD were more likely to obtain support with many financial tasks, such as paying bills and getting loans, compared to their peers without DLD. Most support, in both groups, came from parents.

 

  • Skills in numeracy were associated with functional financial literacy in both groups. Skills in reading, language and non-verbal intelligence were also associated with functional financial literacy in young adults with DLD.

 

 

What does this mean?

 

Individuals with DLD are not excluded from the financial world. However, they might find it challenging to manage their finances because they have greater difficulties in engaging with financial products, functional financial literacy, and managing their finances independently. This means that young adults with DLD may require assistance, such as family support, to manage their finances.

 

This study also finds that numeracy skills are associated with the ability to deal with everyday money transactions. This means that poor numeracy skills may have a negative impact on more than just academic performance and could affect day-to-day adult life for individuals with DLD.

 

Where can I read this paper?

 

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it. 

Please click here to find the full paper.

Economic costs and benefits of Speech and Language Therapy

Marsh, K., Bertranou, E., Suominen, H., & Venkatachalam, M. (2010). An economic evaluation of speech and language therapy. Matrix evidence.

 

Aim of the paper:

 

Communication difficulties are widespread in the population and speech and language difficulties are the most common disability among children. Interventions are delivered by Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs). With increasing financial pressures, it is important to understand whether the public resources used for SLT generate more benefits than the costs of therapy. This paper aims to investigate the costs and benefits of SLT for four different groups. And for this summary, we will focus on one of the groups - children with speech and language impairment.

 

Key terms:

 

Net benefit: This is when the benefits of doing something are bigger than the costs.

 

Benefit-cost ratio: A way to present the relationship between the benefits and costs                                             of doing something. Useful for showing the overall value for money.

 

 

What they found:

 

  • In 2009, approximately 203,000 children aged 6 to 10 years had speech and language impairment.

 

  • Providing Enhanced SLT (15 additional hours of therapy over a period of 15 weeks) for 203,000 children costed £136.6 million each year.

 

  • They looked at the benefits of giving enhanced SLT to these children. Based on the estimated improvement in academic outcomes, the lifetime earnings of the 203,000 children were estimated to increase by £878.4 million.

 

  • Overall, the net benefit gained from enhanced SLT was £741.8 million each year. The benefit-cost ratio was 6.43. This means that for every £1 used for enhanced SLT, £6.43 was gained in terms of lifetime earnings.

 

 

What does this mean?

 

The findings suggest that SLT for treating children with speech and language impairment generates positive net benefits. Aside from lifetime earnings, there may also be other benefits that are not assessed in this paper, for example improved quality of life and mental health. Overall, investing in SLT is appears to be a good use of public resources. The benefits outweigh the costs.  

 

Please note: Unlike other papers we have summarised, this paper is not peer-reviewed. This means that this paper has not been independently assessed by other researchers for quality checking. However, the findings of this paper are important and useful for policy making.

 

 

Where can I read this paper?

 

Please click here to find the full paper.

Tele-practice intervention 

Law, J., Dornstauder, M., Charlton, J., & Gréaux, M. (2021). Tele-practice for children and young people with communication disabilities: Employing the COM-B model to review the intervention literature and inform guidance for practitioners. International journal of language & communication disorders 

 

Aim of the paper: 

 

This study looks at how speech and language therapy for children/young people can be done at a distance using video and telephone methods. These are referred to as tele-practice interventions. This paper focuses on tele-practice interventions due to its increased use as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

 

This study looks at how previous research can explain the different factors impacting the quality of tele-practice interventions. These factors include the child characteristics (e.g., child’s attention, communication disorders), parent/carer and practitioner characteristics, as well as environment and motivation.  

 

What they found: 

 

  • Overall, there is not enough consideration of how the characteristics of children, practitioners and parents affect the quality of tele-practice interventions. The paper points out that previous research has assumed these factors are important, but that there was no real discussion surrounding these factors.  

  • Motivation, through measures such as attendance rates, along with the physical environment (e.g., technological equipment used), are highlighted as directly impacting the effectiveness of TPI.   

  • The research has consistently not looked at how the above factors affect practitioners and parents, with a heavy focus on the child/young person instead.   

 

What does this mean? 

 

This paper suggests a lack of focus on children’s, parents’ and practitioners’ experiences using tele-practice interventions in previous research. Moreover, this study highlights the need to consider unequal accessibility to resources, which is something that stops effective tele-practice interventions. These resources include technological equipment, the ability to communicate through these devices, quiet spaces, and support. This review emphasises on the importance of knowing about these problems in clinical practice and working towards reducing their impact on the quality of tele-practice interventions.  

 

Where can I read this paper? 

 

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it.   

Please click here to find the full paper.  

Social skills and mental health in adolescence

Forrest, C. L., Gibson, J. L., & St Clair, M. C. (2021). Social Functioning as a Mediator between Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) and Emotional Problems in Adolescents. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(3), 1221. MDPI AG. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18031221

 

Aim of the paper:

Children and young people with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) often struggle with making friends and experience feelings of low mood. However, it is not clear how these social and emotional difficulties develop, as they are not directly linked to language. In this study parents and adolescents with and without DLD were asked questions about how they socialise with others and about their mental wellbeing.

 

This paper aimed to see if adolescents with DLD differed to adolescents without DLD in terms of their social skills and mental wellbeing. This paper also looked at whether social problems could explain some of the emotional problems that adolescents with DLD are said to experience.

 

 

What they found:

  • Parents in the DLD group rated their children as experiencing significantly more peer problems and emotional problems than parents in the typical language developed (TLD) group.

  • Surprisingly, adolescents with DLD did not perceive themselves to have significant difficulties with social or emotional problems. In fact, the TLD group reported that they argued with their friends more than the DLD group.

  • Both groups reported similar feelings of mental wellbeing and experienced similar feelings of support from their friends.

  • The DLD group attended fewer social clubs than the TLD group. Young people with DLD might be missing out on socialising opportunities.

  • Parent-rated peer problems explained a high proportion (69%) of the emotional problems in the DLD group.

 

 

What does this mean?

The findings of this paper suggest that parents and professionals need to support the social development and mental wellbeing of adolescents with DLD. The findings of this paper also suggest that one way to lower emotional difficulties might be to address social difficulties in young people with DLD. Clinicians may need to help young people with DLD with their friendships and emotions, as well as their communication skills.

 

The evidence that adolescents do not report significant social or emotional difficulties surprised the authors. They give many reasons for this, such as young people with DLD having difficulties with self-reflection. More research is needed to find out how young people with DLD perceive their own social and emotional skills.  

 

 

Where can I read this paper?

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it. Please click here to find the full paper.

Mental health and the impact of bullying

Kilpatrick, T., Leitão, S., & Boyes, M. (2019). Mental health in adolescents with a history of developmental language disorder: The moderating effect of bullying victimisation. Autism & Developmental Language Impairments. https://doi.org/10.1177/2396941519893313

 

 

Aim of the paper:

 

This study looks at how adolescents’ mental health is affected when they have a history of DLD. This is done by looking at the link between having a history DLD and factors impacting mental health. These factors include self-esteem, bullying victimisation and symptoms of poor mental health. Symptoms of poor mental health include anxiety, depression and attention difficulties.

 

This study also looks at whether bullying victimisation and self-esteem are involved in the link between DLD and mental health symptoms.

 

Key term-

 

Bullying victimisation: Being the victim of bullying

 

 

What they found:

 

  • There was a strong link between bullying victimisation and symptoms of poor mental health.

  • There was no relationship between having a history of DLD and self-esteem.

  • There was no significant relationship between having a history of DLD and overall symptoms of poor mental health. However, adolescents with a history of DLD who have also been bullied show more symptoms of poor mental health.

 

 

What does this mean?

 

In summary, the study found no strong, direct associations between having a history of DLD, self-esteem and overall mental health outcomes. However, adolescents with a history of DLD are at risk of developing poor mental health symptoms when they have also been victims of bullying. These findings suggest that more emphasis should be placed on anti-bullying interventions to prevent poor mental health in young people with DLD. Additionally, clinicians have a crucial responsibility to pay careful attention to the wellbeing of clients with DLD, so that their mental health can be maintained.

 

 

 

Where can I read this paper?

 

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it. 

Please click here to find the full paper.

Employment in young adulthood

Conti-Ramsden, G., Durkin, K., Toseeb, U., Botting, N. & Pickles, A.R. (2017). Education and employment outcomes of young adults with a history of developmental language disorder. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders.

 

 

Aim of the paper:

While previous research shows that young adults with DLD often face difficulties in education and employment, more updated research is needed. This paper aims to understand the difference between young adults with and without DLD in terms of educational pathways, early jobs and income, and whether these outcomes are related to language ability.

 

 

What they found:

 

  • Overall, young adults with DLD achieved lower educational and vocational qualifications than their peers without DLD.

 

  • Higher educational/vocational qualifications were related to better language, better reading and higher non-verbal intelligence.

 

  • In general, young adults with DLD received more educational support and left education earlier than their peers without DLD.

 

  • There is no difference between the two groups in terms of percentage of young people currently employed at age 24.

 

  • Fewer young adults with DLD were in full-time employment than their peers without DLD. Also, young adults with DLD were less likely to be in professional occupations requiring higher level qualifications.

 

  • Income was not affected by DLD status: Young adults with and without DLD were payed equally for the same type of employment and level of qualification.

 

 

What does this mean?

 

The findings suggest that young adults with DLD are generally disadvantaged in education and employment. However, there is considerable variation, with some young adults with DLD showing good educational and employment outcomes, such as obtaining undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. Also, when compared to earlier studies, the educational and employment outcomes of young adults with DLD have generally improved over the last decade.

 

In sum, there are positive aspects to the educational and employment outcomes of young adults with DLD, but they are at risk for less favourable outcomes overall. Therefore, continued support for individuals with DLD into young adulthood is recommended.

 

 

Where can I read this paper?

 

This paper is open access, which means everyone can read it. 

 

Please click here to find the full paper.

DLD and Mid Adulthood outcomes: Employment, Literacy and Mental Health

Law, J., Rush, R., Schoon, I., & Parsons, S. (2009). Modeling developmental language difficulties from school entry into adulthood: literacy, mental health, and employment outcomes. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 52(6), 1401–1416.

 

Aim of the paper:

 

This study looked at how demographic factors and biological factors are linked to Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) with and without low non-verbal IQ. Additionally, they looked at how these factors predict literacy, mental health and employment status during adulthood.

 

Demographic factors included gender, whether the mother was a single parent and parental reading. Biological factors included the size of the baby at birth, maternal smoking during pregnancy and whether the child displays antisocial behaviours.

 

 

What was found:

 

  • There was a relationship between demographic and biological factors and the risk of DLD . The link was stronger in the DLD with low non-verbal IQ

 

  • DLD without low non-verbal IQ does not present itself as much of a risk factor towards mental health in the long run, compared to DLD with low non-verbal IQ, which was strongly linked with poor mental health.

 

  • DLD was a risk factor for unemployment. This risk was increased if the mother was a single parent, lived in overcrowded housing and the child had no pre-school experience and displayed antisocial behaviours.

 

  • Risk of poor literacy in adulthood was significant for the DLD groups. This risk was increased if the child’s mother smoked during pregnancy, left education at the minimum age, and was a single parent.

 

What does this mean?

 

This study suggests the influence of factors present in childhood can have long-term impacts on mental health, employment status and literacy in adulthood, especially for those with DLD associated with Nonverbal IQ problems. From this, it would be useful to look into demographic factors which can be changed, such as parental reading, housing, pre-schooling experience, and discouraging antisocial behaviour. Improving these early experiences may improve adult outcomes in individuals with DLD.

 

Where can I read this paper?

This paper is not open access so we cannot provide a link at this time. 

If you wish to read the full paper, please email E-DLD@bath.ac.uk

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