Children’s History of Speech-Language Difficulties: Genetic Influences and Associations With Reading-Related Measures Purpose This study examined (a) the extent of genetic and environmental influences on children’s articulation and language difficulties and (b) the phenotypic associations between such difficulties and direct assessments of reading-related skills during early school-age years. Method Behavioral genetic analyses focused on parent-report data regarding the speech-language skills ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 2006
Children’s History of Speech-Language Difficulties: Genetic Influences and Associations With Reading-Related Measures
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Laura Segebart DeThorne
    University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
  • Sara A. Hart
    Pennsylvania State University, University Park
  • Stephen A. Petrill
    Pennsylvania State University, University Park
  • Kirby Deater-Deckard
    Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg
  • Lee Anne Thompson
    Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
  • Chris Schatschneider
    Florida State University, Tallahassee
  • Megan Dunn Davison
    Pennsylvania State University
  • Contact author: Laura S. DeThorne, Department of Speech and Hearing Science, University of Illinois, 901 S. Sixth, Champaign, IL 61820. E-mail: lauras@uiuc.edu.
Article Information
Development / Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Special Populations / Genetic & Congenital Disorders / Language Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 2006
Children’s History of Speech-Language Difficulties: Genetic Influences and Associations With Reading-Related Measures
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2006, Vol. 49, 1280-1293. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2006/092)
History: Received December 8, 2005 , Revised April 8, 2006 , Accepted April 26, 2006
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2006, Vol. 49, 1280-1293. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2006/092)
History: Received December 8, 2005; Revised April 8, 2006; Accepted April 26, 2006
Web of Science® Times Cited: 32

Purpose This study examined (a) the extent of genetic and environmental influences on children’s articulation and language difficulties and (b) the phenotypic associations between such difficulties and direct assessments of reading-related skills during early school-age years.

Method Behavioral genetic analyses focused on parent-report data regarding the speech-language skills of 248 twin pairs (M = 6.08 years) from the Western Reserve Reading Project. In addition, phenotypic associations between children’s speech-language status and direct assessments of early reading-related abilities were examined through hierarchical linear modeling (HLM).

Results Probandwise concordance rates and intraclass tetrachoric correlations indicated high heritability for children’s difficulties in expressive language and articulation, with estimates of .54 and .97 accordingly. HLM results indicated that children with histories of speech-language difficulties scored significantly lower than unaffected children on various measures of early reading-related abilities.

Conclusions Results from the parent-report survey provided converging evidence of genetic effects on children’s speech and language difficulties and suggest that children with a history of speech-language difficulties are at risk for lower performance on early reading-related measures. The extent of risk differed across measures and appeared greatest for children who demonstrated a history of difficulties across articulation, expressive language, and receptive language. Implications for future genetic research and clinical practice are discussed.

Acknowledgments
The Western Research Reading Project is supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (Grants HD38075 and HD46167), and collaborations on all language analyses have been supported by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Advancing Academic-Research Careers (AARC) Award. We give sincere thanks to all participating families and affiliated research staff.
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