Article/Report  |   April 2006
Can Severely Language Delayed 3-Year-Olds Be Identified at 18 Months? Evaluation of a Screening Version of the MacArthur–Bates Communicative Development Inventories
Author Notes
  • Contact author: Monica Westerlund, Central Unit of Child Health Care, Department of Women’s and Children’s Health, Unit of Pediatrics, Uppsala University Hospital S-751 85 Uppsala, Sweden. Email: monica.westerlund@akademiska.se
Article Information
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Language Disorders / Language
Article/Report   |   April 2006
Can Severely Language Delayed 3-Year-Olds Be Identified at 18 Months? Evaluation of a Screening Version of the MacArthur–Bates Communicative Development Inventories
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2006, Vol. 49, 237-247. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2006/020)
History: Received April 17, 2004 , Revised October 22, 2004 , Accepted August 17, 2005
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, April 2006, Vol. 49, 237-247. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2006/020)
History: Received April 17, 2004; Revised October 22, 2004; Accepted August 17, 2005
Web of Science® Times Cited: 23

Purpose: To evaluate the effectiveness of a screening instrument (the Swedish Communication Screening at 18 months of age; SCS18), derived from the Swedish MacArthur–Bates Communicative Development Inventory, in identification of 18-month-old children who will be severely language disabled by 3 years of age, the authors (a) analyzed which SCS18’s component yielded the best prediction, (b) compared the productivity figures of the SCS18 with those of the traditional method of identification, and (c) tried different cutoff criteria of the SCS18.

Method: Half of the child health care (CHC) centers in a Swedish county were randomly selected to use the SCS18 (e.g., a checklist supporting parents in assessing their child’s word production, word comprehension, and communicative gestures). Remaining CHC centers used an informal assessment. Expressive and receptive language was subsequently judged with an observation for 3-year-olds that is routine in the county. An unselected population of 2,080 children participated at 18 months of age and again at 3 years of age.

Result: Number of spoken words yielded the best prediction, and SCS18 was superior to the traditional method. A sensitivity of 50%, however, was not enough, and a stricter criterion resulted in too many false positives to be acceptable as routine.

Conclusion: Although the SCS18 has strength, the age of 18 months seems to be too early for identification of severe language disability.

Acknowledgments
This study was supported by the Origin of Man, Language and Languages Eurocores (European Science Foundation Collaborative Research Programmes), the Anna Ahlström and Ellen Terserus Foundation, the Gillbergska Foundation, and by grants from the University of Gävle. We thank all the parents and children for participating in the study and the child health care nurses for their cooperation.
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