Better Diagnosis of Language Impairments

"One of the most basic and long-standing questions about SLI is whether children with the disorder have language skills that differ qualitatively and nonarbitrarily from those of other children or whether their language skills simply fall at the lower end of a continuous distribution, below some arbitrary threshold but not otherwise unique," she said.

Dollaghan previously reported on this sample of children when they were 3 and 4 years old. The new study included some test results that were not available at the earlier ages. She focused on four common indicators of SLI - receptive vocabulary, expressive utterance length, expressive vocabulary diversity and nonsense word repetition.

As in the earlier investigation, she found the 6-year-olds with SLI did not represent a distinct group with unique characteristics Instead, they fell at the lower end of a continuous distribution of language skills.

The results of the study could help in developing diagnostic protocols for children with language impairment and tailoring treatments to the characteristics of individual children. Dollaghan said the categorical-continuous question is being examined by investigators interested in many other diagnostic categories, including autism, schizophrenia and ADHD.


MEDICA.de; Source: University of Texas at Dallas