Language Development and Symbolic Play in Children With and Without Familial Risk for Dyslexia The purposes of this study were to investigate (a) whether children in families with a positive history of dyslexia were more likely to show delays in language development than children without family risk and (b) whether a delayed onset of expressive language (late talking) predicted later language development. We analyzed ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 01, 2001
Language Development and Symbolic Play in Children With and Without Familial Risk for Dyslexia
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Paula Lyytinen, PhD
    Department of Psychology University of Jyväskylä Jyväskylä, Finland
    Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, P.O. Box, SF-40351, Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Anna-Maija Poikkeus
    Department of Psychology University of Jyväskylä Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Marja-Leena Laakso
    Department of Psychology University of Jyväskylä Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Kenneth Eklund
    Department of Psychology University of Jyväskylä Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Heikki Lyytinen
    Department of Psychology University of Jyväskylä Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Corresponding author: e-mail: plyytine@psyka.jyu.fi
Article Information
Development / Special Populations / Language Disorders / Reading & Writing Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 01, 2001
Language Development and Symbolic Play in Children With and Without Familial Risk for Dyslexia
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2001, Vol. 44, 873-885. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2001/070)
History: Received June 28, 2000 , Accepted February 27, 2001
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2001, Vol. 44, 873-885. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2001/070)
History: Received June 28, 2000; Accepted February 27, 2001
Web of Science® Times Cited: 64

The purposes of this study were to investigate (a) whether children in families with a positive history of dyslexia were more likely to show delays in language development than children without family risk and (b) whether a delayed onset of expressive language (late talking) predicted later language development. We analyzed the language development of 200 children longitudinally at 14, 24, 30, and 42 months and assessed their symbolic play at 14 months. Half of the children (N=106) were from families with a history of dyslexia (the Dyslexia Risk [DR] group), and other children served as age-matched controls. Parental reports and structured tests were used to assess children’s receptive and expressive language and symbolic play. No differences emerged between the two groups in receptive language, symbolic play, or on the Bayley MDI. The groups, however, diverged in expressive language measures. The maximum sentence length at 2 years and object naming and inflectional morphology skills at 3.5 years were higher for the control group than for the DR group. Reynell receptive score at 2.5 years provided the greatest unique contribution to the prediction of the children’s receptive and expressive language. Children’s risk status did not contribute to receptive language, but provided a significant contribution to their expressive language at 3.5 years, even after the variance associated with parental education and children’s previous language skills was controlled. Late talkers in the DR group differed from the other members of the DR group in both receptive and expressive language at 3.5 years, although in the control group children with a late-talking history performed at age-level expectations. The findings suggest that children with a familial risk for dyslexia and with a history of late talking are at higher risk for delays in language acquisition than children without the familial risk for dyslexia.

Acknowledgments
We thank the families who participated in the study, S. Leinonen and the personnel of maternity clinics of Central Finland for their help in enrolling the families, J. Erskine for polishing the language, A. Mäkiaho for assistance in statistics, J. Katajamäki for collecting data, K. Eklund for organizing the assessment visits, and J. Gilger for valuable comments. This work belongs to the Finnish Centre of Excellence Programme (2000–2005) and has been supported by the Academy of Finland and the University of Jyväskylä.
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