Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

BACKGROUND: Evidence suggests there is a heightened risk of psychiatric disorder in children with speech-language impairments. However, not all forms of language impairment are strongly associated with psychosocial difficulty, and some psychiatric disorders (e.g., attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)) are more prevalent than others in language-impaired populations. The present study assessed the psychosocial adjustment in adolescence of young people with history of speech-language impairment, and investigated specific relationships between language deficits and psychiatric disorders. METHODS: Seventy-one young people (aged 15-16 years) with a preschool history of speech-language impairment were assessed using a psychiatric interview (K-SADS) supplemented by questionnaires probing social encounters and parental reports of behaviour and attention. Their psycho-social adjustment was compared with that of a cross-sectional control group of age-matched controls. RESULTS: Overall the rate of psychiatric disorder was low in the clinical sample and children whose language delay had resolved by 5.5 years had a good outcome. For those whose language difficulties persisted through the school years, there was a raised incidence of attention and social difficulties. These difficulties were partially independent and associated with different language profiles. The group with attention problems showed a profile of specific expressive language difficulties; the group with social difficulties had receptive and expressive language difficulties; and the group with both attention and social difficulties was of low IQ with global language difficulties. CONCLUSIONS: Amongst children with speech-language delays at 5.5 years, those with more severe and persistent language difficulties and low nonverbal IQ are at higher risk of psychiatric morbidity in adolescence.

Original publication




Journal article


J Child Psychol Psychiatry

Publication Date





759 - 765


Adolescent, Anxiety Disorders, Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity, Child, Child, Preschool, Comorbidity, Conduct Disorder, Cross-Sectional Studies, Dysthymic Disorder, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Incidence, Intelligence, Language Development Disorders, Language Therapy, Male, Mental Disorders, Outcome Assessment (Health Care), Risk Factors, Sex Factors, Social Adjustment, Socioeconomic Factors, Speech Disorders, Speech Therapy, Statistics as Topic