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Pediatrics. 1989 Feb;83(2):218-27.

Language growth in children with expressive language delay.

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Department of Pediatrics, State University of New York, Stony Brook 11794-8111.


Developmental expressive language disorder is a frequently occurring condition in children, characterized by severe delay in the development of expressive language compared with receptive language and cognitive skills. Opinions differ regarding whether expressive language delay is a disorder worthy of active intervention or an indication of normal variation in the onset of expressive language. The purpose of this research was to follow for 5 months 26 2-year-old children in whom expressive language disorder had been carefully diagnosed to discover the rate of improvement and its predictors. Improvement was variable, with approximately one third of the children showing no improvement, one third showing mild improvement, and one third in the normal range at posttest. Nearly two thirds of the variance in improvement could be accounted for by three child variables measured by the pretest: parentally reported vocabulary size, parentally reported problems with having regular meals, and observed frequency of quiet activity not requiring the parent's management. A screening procedure involving only one of those variables, reported vocabulary size, was 81% accurate in identifying children's improvement status. The implications of these results for the management of children with expressive language disorder are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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