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Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2012;8:221-7. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S30106. Epub 2012 May 15.

Teenage outcomes after speech and language impairment at preschool age.

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Department of Special Education, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.



Ten years ago, we published developmental data on a representative group of children (n = 25) with moderate or severe speech and language impairment, who were attending special preschools for children. The aim of this study was to perform a follow-up of these children as teenagers.


Parents of 23 teenagers participated in a clinical interview that requested information on the child's current academic achievement, type of school, previous clinical assessments, and developmental diagnoses. Fifteen children participated in a speech and language evaluation, and 13 participated in a psychological evaluation.


Seven of the 23 teenagers had a mild intellectual disability, and another three had borderline intellectual functioning. Nine had symptoms of disorders on the autism spectrum; five of these had an autism spectrum disorder, and four had clear autistic traits. Six met criteria for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)/subthreshold ADHD. Thirteen of 15 teenagers had a moderate or severe language impairment, and 13 of 15 had a moderate or severe reading impairment. Overlapping disorders were frequent. None of the individuals who underwent the clinical evaluation were free from developmental problems.


A large number of children with speech and language impairment at preschool age had persistent language problems and/or met the criteria for developmental diagnoses other than speech and language impairment at their follow-up as teenagers. Language impairment in young children is a marker for several developmental disorders, particularly intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder.


ADHD; autism spectrum disorder; developmental disorders; dyslexia; follow-up; language impairment

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