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Self-directed speech and self-regulation in childhood neurodevelopmental disorders: Current findings and future directions

  • Aisling Mulvihill (a1), Annemaree Carroll (a1), Paul E. Dux (a2) and Natasha Matthews (a2)


Self-directed speech is considered an important developmental achievement as a self-regulatory mediator of thinking and behavior. Atypical self-directed speech is often implicated in the self-regulatory challenges characteristic of children with neurodevelopmental disorders. A growing body of evidence provides snapshots across age-levels and diagnoses, often presenting conflicting results. This systematic review is undertaken to impose clarity on the nature, extent, and self-regulatory implications of self-directed speech interruption in children with developmental language disorder (DLD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

A rigorous search process of relevant databases (i.e., PsychInfo, PubMed, CINAHL, ERIC) uncovered 19 relevant peer-reviewed articles that investigate self-directed speech in children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Consistent across the research, children with DLD, ASD, and ADHD present with differential development and use of self-directed speech.

In its synthesis of findings, this systematic review clearly explicates the differential ontogenesis of self-directed speech in neurodevelopmental disorders and interprets the self-regulatory implications for children with DLD, ASD, and ADHD. Furthermore, the review spotlights important future research directions to better understand the mechanistic relationship between self-directed speech and self-regulation.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Aisling Mulvihill, School of Education, The University of Queensland, Social Sciences Building No. 24, Campbell Rd., St. Lucia, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia; E-mail:


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Self-directed speech and self-regulation in childhood neurodevelopmental disorders: Current findings and future directions

  • Aisling Mulvihill (a1), Annemaree Carroll (a1), Paul E. Dux (a2) and Natasha Matthews (a2)


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