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Int J Lang Commun Disord. 2011 Jul-Aug;46(4):437-48. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-6984.2011.00004.x. Epub 2011 Mar 7.

Language-learning impairments: a 30-year follow-up of language-impaired children with and without psychiatric, neurological and cognitive difficulties.

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Department of Nordic Studies and Linguistics, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.



This study investigated the long-term consequences of language impairments for academic, educational and socio-economic outcomes. It also assessed the unique contributions of childhood measures of speech and language, non-verbal IQ, and of psychiatric and neurological problems.


The study was a 30-year follow-up of 198 participants originally diagnosed with language impairments at 3-9 years. Childhood diagnoses were based on language and cognitive abilities, social maturity, motor development, and psychiatric and neurological signs. At follow-up the participants responded to a questionnaire about literacy, education, employment, economic independence and family status. The response rate was 42% (198/470).


At follow-up a majority of the participants reported literacy difficulties, unemployment and low socio-economic status-at rates significantly higher than in the general population. Participants diagnosed as children with specific language impairments had significantly better outcomes than those with additional diagnoses, even when non-verbal IQ was normal or statistically controlled. Childhood measures accounted for up to 52% of the variance in adult outcomes.


Psychiatric and neurological comorbidity is relevant for adult outcomes of language impairments even when non-verbal IQ is normal.

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