DLD in adulthood - Cognitive, Language and Psychosocial outcomes

Clegg, J., Hollis, C., Mawhood, L., & Rutter, M. (2005). Developmental language disorders–a follow‐up in later adult life. Cognitive, language and psychosocial outcomes. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 46(2), 128-149.


Aim of the paper:


This paper aims to understand the cognitive, language and psychosocial outcomes of adults with childhood DLD. To do so, 17 men with childhood DLD were given multiple tests, including tests for intelligence, language, reading, theory of mind, memory, social adaptation and pragmatic language. Their results were compared with their siblings without DLD and adults with similar performance IQ but without DLD.


What they found:

  • IQ scores of DLD group were within the normal range. However, their verbal IQ was significantly lower than the sibling group and IQ-matched group.

  • Reading, spelling, phonological processing and theory of mind abilities of DLD group were significantly lower than the other groups.

  • DLD group had significantly poorer social adaptation when compared to the other groups, for example they more likely to be unemployed and to lack close relationships.

  • Social adaptation in DLD group was related to general language and reading ability, as well as pragmatic language ability.

  • Language difficulties persisted from childhood into adult life for the individuals with childhood DLD.

  • Within the DLD group, individuals with higher childhood intelligence and language were more likely to have better cognitive and language outcome in adulthood.


What does this mean?

Language Disorder tends to persist from childhood to adulthood in individuals with DLD. Additionally, cognitive skills such as theory of mind and reading ability are likely to remain impaired. The findings also suggest that social problems experienced by adults with childhood DLD are related to the problems in their language and cognitive abilities.


The authors highlight the importance of continuous educational and social competence support for individuals with DLD as the impairments they experience are persistent. There also needs to be an increased awareness of the wide range of difficulties that should be addressed in this support.

Where can I read this paper?


This paper is not open access. If you wish to read the full paper, please email E-DLD@bath.ac.uk and request a copy of the paper.