Changes in Children’s Speech and Language Difficulties from Age Five to Nine: An Irish National, Longitudinal Study

ROY MCCONKEY, Ann Swift, J Titterington

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Abstract

In many countries, information on the prevalence of persistent speech and language disorders in early childhood is sparse due to the lack of nationally representative samples and longitudinal studies. Secondary analysis of data collected on over 7500 Irish children at ages 5 and 9 years, found that the prevalence of speech and language difficulties reported by the primary caregivers of Irish children decreased from one in six at age 5 to one in 12 at age 9. However, one in 20 children were reported to have difficulties at both ages. Regression analysis compared children with difficulties at both age 5 and age 9 to those who had been reported to have them at age 5 but no longer had such difficulties at age 9. Children with speech and language difficulties at both age 5 and age 9 were more likely to have two or more developmental impairments as well as current or past hearing impairments. Teachers and parents also reported a greater number of social-emotional difficulties. Family characteristics did not differ significantly across the two groupings. At best, up to one third of the children at ages 5 and 9 with speech and language difficulties had two or more contacts with a speech and language therapists in the preceding 12 month period. Increased support to these children, their parents and teachers would seem to be warranted.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere8483
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number16
Early online date11 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 Aug 2021

Keywords

  • speech difficulties
  • language difficulties
  • children
  • longitudinal
  • national
  • survey
  • ireland
  • speech and language theapy

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