Literacy, numeracy and learning in school-aged children identified as having speech and language impairment in early childhood

Linda Harrison, Sharynne McLeod, Donna Berthelsen, Sue Walker

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51 Citations (Scopus)
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The progress of a nationally representative sample of 3632 children was followed from early childhood through to primary school, using data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC). The aim was to examine the predictive effects of different aspects of communicative ability, and of early vs. sustained identification of speech and language impairment, on children's achievement and adjustment at school. Four indicators identified speech and language impairment: parent-rated expressive language concern; parent-rated receptive language concern; use of speech-language pathology services; below average scores on the adapted Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-III. School outcomes were assessed by teachers' ratings of language/literacy ability, numeracy/mathematical thinking and approaches to learning. Comparison of group differences, using ANOVA, provided clear evidence that children who were identified as having speech and language impairment in their early childhood years did not perform as well at school, two years later, as their non-impaired peers on all three outcomes: Language and Literacy, Mathematical Thinking, and Approaches to Learning. The effects of early speech and language status on literacy, numeracy, and approaches to learning outcomes were similar in magnitude to the effect of family socio-economic factors, after controlling for child characteristics. Additionally, early identification of speech and language impairment (at age 4-5) was found to be a better predictor of school outcomes than sustained identification (at aged 4-5 and 6-7 years). Parent-reports of speech and language impairment in early childhood are useful in foreshadowing later difficulties with school and providing early intervention and targeted support from speech-language pathologists and specialist teachers
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-403
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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