Language-related abilities in young adults with DLD

Botting, N. (2020). Language, literacy and cognitive skills of young adults with developmental language disorder (DLD). International journal of language & communication disorders, 55(2), 255-265.


Aim of the paper:


Some difficulties related to developmental language disorder (DLD) can continue into adulthood and have long-term consequences in different aspects of individuals’ lives. To date, most research into adult DLD has focused on general quality of life. Limited research has been conducted focusing on language-related abilities. This study aimed to examine the language, literacy, and cognitive skills of 24-year-old young adults with and without DLD.


What was found:


• Young adults with DLD performed more poorly on formal oral and written language tests compared to those without DLD.

• A significant minority of young adults with DLD reported more functional reading and writing difficulties (i.e., everyday difficulties in reading and writing, such as reading emails or writing texts) than those without DLD.

• There was no significant difference between individuals with and without DLD in the frequency of reading for leisure except for internet-based material. Individuals with DLD read less information from the internet.

• The non-verbal IQ of individuals with DLD improved from age 16 to 24, showing relative catch up to those without DLD.


What does this mean?


The findings suggest that some individuals with DLD can also experience language difficulties in adulthood. However, it also suggests that the language, literacy, and cognitive skills relative to those without DLD can improve over time. To better support adults with DLD, families of young individuals with DLD as well as the professionals working with them should be more aware of the continuing language difficulties individuals with DLD may experience. Considering the lack of awareness of DLD among general managers, it may be particularly valuable for adults with DLD to inform their communication difficulties to employers or co-workers to access better workplace support. Increasing the availability of support or interventions targeting the development of reading interests and skills may encourage continued language development in the adult DLD population.


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.