top of page

Education, employment and independent living in young adults with DLD

Dubois, P., St-Pierre, M.-C., Desmarais, C., & Guay, F. (2020). Young Adults With Developmental Language Disorder: A Systematic Review of Education, Employment, and Independent Living Outcomes. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 63(11), 3786–3800.

Aim of the paper:

Researchers conducted a systematic review of literature (from 2005 to 2018) that aimed to focus on a specific difficult period during the lives of young adults with DLD; namely the school-to-work transition. They further narrowed down their focus three outcome categories: education, employment, and independent living. However, the aim of the paper is not only limited on the systematic review, but rather researchers also aimed to investigate whether language abilities effectively predict these outcomes.

What was found?


  • Similar rates of engagement in education was found for young adults with DLD and their peers. Most of those with DLD completed high school.

  • Students with DLD relied more on support from institutions (e.g. extra time, tutoring), may leave school earlier, and be less successful in the academic field

  • Language skills predicted academic achievement but only when considering written skills


  • Job satisfaction, levels of support, number of jobs, and job security were similar between young adults with DLD and their peers

  • Young adults with DLD face more difficulties in the job search process, may experience longer periods of unemployment, lower job levels, and risk of lower income in the long term

  • Language skills have a limited role in predicting employment outcome

Independent living

  • Financial and residential independence as well as friendship and community integration are more challenging for young adults with DLD

  • Young adults with DLD are generally not more at risk than their peers of having problems with the law (e.g. trouble with the police, arrest rates)

  • Language skills did not predict parenthood and financial literacy skills, but did predict shyness, self-esteem levels and having a driver’s license

What does this mean?

These results highlight the importance of intervention to improve outcomes in young adults with DLD as it is evident that difficulties in those outcomes persist throughout their lives. They are also important as a starting point for developing transition policies that fit the needs of young adults with DLD (i.e. help with transition from school to work). However, it also highlights the resilience of the DLD population; they are able to find ways of engaging in education and employment at rates comparable to their typically developing peers.

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.


bottom of page