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Publication Detail
The identification of speech and language problems in elementary school: Diagnosis and co-occurring needs
© 2018 Background: Oral language skills are the foundation for success at school and in employment. A significant minority of children experience difficulties in the acquisition of oral language resulting in speech and language needs (SLN). There are disjunctures between clinical studies using standardised assessment and educational studies. The current study examines teacher reported SLN alongside assessments of language and cognitive skills to explore children's profiles of needs, developmental trajectories and risk factors. Procedure: Data from the UK Millennium Cohort Study were used to examine teacher identification of SLN at seven (n = 8658) and 11 years (n = 7275). Results: There were high levels of co-occurrence between SLN and other special educational needs at seven and 11 years, with SLN being less common at 11. Vocabulary levels and parental concerns at three and five and educational attainment at seven were highly predictive of SLN at seven, slightly less so at 11. However, a significant proportion of parents of children who scored in the bottom 2nd centile on vocabulary measures did not report their child as experiencing a language problem. Gender and disadvantage were also predictive of SLN but were mediated by the cognitive and behavioural variables. Implications: These results raise questions about whether children's language needs at age 11 are recognised in schools. The extent of co-occurrence challenges the way diagnostic categories should be used and supports the value of profiling of dimensions of need.
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