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Specific language impairment

Conti-Ramsden, G. and Durkin, Kevin (2011) Specific language impairment. In: Child Psychology and Psychiatry: Frameworks for Practice. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester, UK, pp. 180-186. ISBN 0470973820

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This chapter introduces the research literature on specific language impairment (SLI). We characterise the key features, causes and the major types of SLI, and how children with SLI may be identified and differentiated from children with other developmental disorders. We suggest that language comprehension is a key marker of concern in SLI. We show that SLI is a relatively stable condition in middle childhood. Growth trajectories of language abilities suggest that on average, children with SLI do not catch up with their typically developing peers nor do they fall further behind from middle childhood to adolescence. In contrast, other areas of functioning change over time, in particular nonverbal abilities and social skills. We discuss associated difficulties such as problems with literacy. We stress the need for the assessment of oral language beyond childhood.