Specific Language Impairment has been actively studied for more than 40 years. Language acquisition is the primary area of concern as the child grows and develops. There are no obvious related causes such as hearing loss or low IQ. The condition appears in young children and is known to persist into adulthood. Although the causes are unknown, current research focuses on possible inherited tendencies. Early identification and intervention are considered best practices, in order to minimize possible academic risks.
1. Specific Language Impairment has many names and it is surprisingly common.
SLI is just one of the many communication disorders that affect more than 1 million students in the public schools. If your child has been evaluated by a speech pathologist, you may have heard its other names: developmental language disorder, language delay or developmental dysphasia. Specific language impairment is the precise name that opens the door to research about how to help a child grow and learn.
2. Late talking may be a sign.
Children with SLI may not produce any words until they are nearly two years old. At age three, they may talk, but can't be understood. As they grow, they will struggle to learn new words, make conversation and sound coherent.
Today, research is underway to determine which children do not outgrow this pattern of delayed speech. By age 4 to 5 years, SLI could be a signpost of a lasting disability that persists throughout the school years.
3. A child with SLI does not have a low IQ or poor hearing.
Several other disabilities involve difficulties communicating, but for these children the primary diagnosis will be mental retardation, or autism, or hearing loss, or cerebral palsy. A child with SLI scores within the normal range for nonverbal intelligence. Hearing loss is not present. Emerging motor skills, social-emotional development and the child's neurological profile are all normal. The only setback is with language. SLI is the primary diagnosis.