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Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2001;5(2):71-7.

Arithmetic skills in kindergarten children with developmental language disorders.

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  • 1Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Hebrew University-Hadassah, Jerusalem, Israel.


Although arithmetic is not a language-based skill, a specific learning disability in arithmetic--dyscalculia--is commonly seen in children with developmental language disorders (DLD). The object of this study was to assess whether kindergarten children with DLD have impaired arithmetic skills and, if so, to correlate the pattern of dysfunction with language syndromes. Forty-two children with DLD attending mainstream kindergartens, and their matched controls, underwent an arithmetic battery, neurological examination, intelligence quotient (IQ) test (WPPSI/WISC-R) and language assessment (CELF-R).* Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was diagnosed by psychological assessment and behaviour questionnaires. Results showed that children with DLD were similar to controls on performance IQ (104.2+/-12.1 and 109.4+/-12.7 respectively, p = NS), but inferior on both the CELF-R expressive (74.8+/-9.3 vs 95.2+/-15.1, p < 0.01) and receptive (77.5+/-10.0 vs 87.8+/-12.3, p < 0.01) language scores. Their performance on the arithmetic battery was also significantly poorer: 61.2+/-17.7 vs 77.4+/-13.7, p < 0.01. Low scores in reasoning principles and arithmetic operations were associated with both receptive and expressive language impairment, while poor performance on counting principles was primarily associated with expressive deficits. Mild motor signs and ADHD were more frequent in children with DLD (p < 0.01 and < 0.05, respectively). We concluded that the arithmetic impairment in children with DLD is pervasive, affecting a broad spectrum of skills. Whereas impairment of most arithmetic skills is associated with global language disturbances, counting correlates primarily with expressive language deficits. Anticipatory guidance by physicians will better prepare parents and educators for the multiple challenges facing children with DLD.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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