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J Speech Lang Hear Res. 2011 Feb;54(1):211-27. doi: 10.1044/1092-4388(2010/09-0167). Epub 2010 Aug 5.

Communication, listening, cognitive and speech perception skills in children with auditory processing disorder (APD) or Specific Language Impairment (SLI).

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  • 1Medical Research Council Institute of Hearing Research Clinical Section, Nottingham, United Kingdom.



Parental reports of communication, listening, and behavior in children receiving a clinical diagnosis of specific language impairment (SLI) or auditory processing disorder (APD) were compared with direct tests of intelligence, memory, language, phonology, literacy, and speech intelligibility. The primary aim was to identify whether there were differences between these characteristics in children with SLI or APD.


Normally hearing children who were clinically diagnosed with SLI (n = 22) or APD (n = 19), and a quasirandom sample of mainstream school (MS) children (n = 47) aged 6-13 years, underwent tests of verbal and nonverbal IQ, digit span, nonsense word repetition, Spoonerisms, reading, grammar, and sentence and VCV nonword intelligibility. Parents completed questionnaires on the children's communication, listening, and behavior.


There was generally no difference between the performance of the children with SLI and the children with APD on the questionnaire and test measures, and both groups consistently and significantly underperformed compared with the children in the MS group. Speech intelligibility in both noise and quiet was unimpaired in the SLI and APD groups.


Despite clinical diagnoses of SLI or APD, the 2 groups of children had very similar behavioral and parental report profiles, suggesting that the children were differentially diagnosed based on their referral route rather than on actual differences.

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