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Outcomes for children with delayed language development: does temperament make a difference?

Lachkovic, Julie Maria (2015) Outcomes for children with delayed language development: does temperament make a difference? Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This longitudinal study explored the language and temperament profiles of a cohort (N= 72) of young children (2;00 - 3;09) who had a diagnosis of Early Language Delay given by a Speech and Language Therapist. The study investigated associations between aspects of the children’s temperament, their main carer’s (parent) temperament and their language progress over one year. Standardised assessment of receptive and expressive language skills took place at entry to the study and again after one year to profile the natural history of their early language delay within a community context. All the participants continued to access speech and language therapy services, as appropriate to their needs, during the period of the study. Temperament data was collected using standardised questionnaires completed by the child’s main carer. A series of linear regression analyses were used to predict one year performance from initial language skills at the start of the study alongside child temperament, socio-demographic factors and a measure of child-parent ‘goodness of fit’. The final model for receptive language skills, predicted 78% of the variance in outcomes and included auditory comprehension (76.5 %) and distractibility (1.6%). For expressive language skills the final model, which predicted 59.5% of the variance, involved five variables: auditory comprehension (34%), expressive communication (13.8%), adaptability (5.6%), persistence (3.1%) and negative family history of language difficulties (3%). Ratings of goodness of fit were significantly (p < .010) associated with auditory comprehension skills, such that children with higher auditory comprehension scores were rated as easier to manage then children with lower scores. This association did not hold for expressive communication skills. Early language delay is a high prevalence condition and this study provides data that suggest that aspects of temperament may confer a degree of protection or risk to children in relation to their language development, once identified with an early language delay. The implications are discussed along with the need for further research in this area.

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