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Outcome of toddlers with specific expressive language delay

  • Leslie Rescorla (a1) and Ellen Schwartz (a1)

This article describes a follow-up of 25 boys diagnosed as having specific expressive language delay (SELD) in the 24- to 31-month age period. At the time of diagnosis, all subjects had Bayley MDI scores above 85, Reynell Receptive Language Age scores within 4 months of their chronological age, and Reynell Expressive Language Age scores at least 5 months below chronological age; most had vocabularies of fewer than 50 words and few if any word combinations. At follow-up, 16 boys were 3 years old, 7 were 3½, and 2 were 4 years of age. When seen for follow-up, half the 25 boys still had very poor expressive language. These boys were speaking at best in short, telegraphic sentences, and many had moderately severe articulation disorders with quite poor intelligibility. The 12 boys with better outcome had a range of language skills. All spoke in sentences to some extent, and each displayed some mastery of early morphemes (prepositions, plurals, articles, progressive tense, and possessives). However, few if any of the children spoke in completely fluent, syntactically complex, and morphologically correct language. Problems with copula and auxiliary verbs, with past tense inflections, and with pronouns seemed especially common. This research suggests that children with SELD at 24 to 30 months are at considerable risk for continuing language problems.

Corresponding author
Leslie Rescorla, Department of Human Development, Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
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Applied Psycholinguistics
  • ISSN: 0142-7164
  • EISSN: 1469-1817
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