Study identifies grammar challenge task with potential to identify language disorder among older children

To help identify Specific Language Impairment (SLI) in children who are beyond their preschool years, researchers at the KU Life Span Institute have evaluated a new, more grammatically challenging language task to aid in diagnosis.

"A girl in late elementary school years uses her hands as she speaks to a woman sitting next to her"

In a longitudinal study of 483 children ages 5-18 years of age, the research showed that the task has potential screening value for identification of children with SLI. The results were published in the Aug. 22 edition of the Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research by Mabel L. Rice and Kathleen Kelsey Earnest from the University of Kansas and Lesa Hoffman of the University of Iowa.

SLI is a communication disorder that appears in early development and interferes with the language acquisition skills of children. The condition may persist into adulthood, does not result from hearing loss or low IQ, and has no known cause.

Identification of SLI can be challenging for clinicians, but early intervention before kindergarten can significantly help minimize severity. However, a diagnosis at any age can help older children and adults develop strategies for managing symptoms to improve their daily lives, which is why clinicians need effective tools for older youth.

Children with SLI face challenges with speaking, listening, reading and writing and is one of the most common developmental disorders, affecting more than 7% of children in kindergarten, according to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.