Prediction of the outcome of children who had a language delay at age 2 when they are aged 4: Still a challenge.


PURPOSE This study investigated the role that variables related to children and their environment play in the prediction of outcomes at 4 years of age for children with a language delay at 2 years. METHOD A longitudinal study was undertaken where 64 children (45 boys, 19 girls; mean age = 53.3 months; SD = 4.4) with language delay at age 2 years were re-evaluated at age 4 years. Three developmental trajectories were analysed. RESULT The early stages of grammar, as estimated by mean length of utterance at 3.5 years, are an important prognosis factor of subsequent language impairment (LI). Children who are exposed to several risk factors simultaneously are more likely to have a language delay (LD) or a LI, but the profile of LD children is more akin to that of the typically developing (TD) children. Children with LI tend to have profiles with a greater number of risk factors. CONCLUSION The results of this study encourage different intervention approaches depending on the child's language profile at 2 years, due to differing language prognosis. The results also point to the need to assess the child's environment. Future studies with large diverse population samples may give more precise information on potential risk factors and their cumulative effect.


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