Specific Language Impairment in Families Evidence for Co-Occurrence With Reading Impairments Research Article
Research Article  |   June 01, 2003
Specific Language Impairment in Families
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Judy F. Flax, PhD
    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark
  • Teresa Realpe-Bonilla
    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark
  • Linda S. Hirsch
    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark
  • Linda M. Brzustowicz
    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark/Piscataway University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark/Piscataway
  • Christopher W. Bartlett
    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark/Piscataway University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark/Piscataway
  • Paula Tallal
    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark Scientific Learning Corporation, Oakland, CA
  • Contact author: Judy F. Flax, PhD, Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 197 University Avenue, Newark, New Jersey 07102. E-mail: flax@axon.rutgers.edu
Article Information
Development / Special Populations / Genetic & Congenital Disorders / Language Disorders / Specific Language Impairment / Reading & Writing Disorders / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 01, 2003
Specific Language Impairment in Families
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2003, Vol. 46, 530-543. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2003/043)
History: Received May 30, 2002 , Accepted December 17, 2002
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, June 2003, Vol. 46, 530-543. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2003/043)
History: Received May 30, 2002; Accepted December 17, 2002

Two family aggregation studies report the occurrence and co-occurrence of oral language impairments (LIs) and reading impairments (RIs). Study 1 examined the occurrence (rate) of LI and RI in children with specific language impairment (SLI probands), a matched control group, and all nuclear family members. Study 2 included a larger sample of SLI probands, as well as their nuclear and extended family members. Probands and their family members who met specific criteria were classified as language and/or reading impaired based on current testing. In Study 1, the rates of LI and RI for nuclear family members (excluding probands) were significantly higher than those for control family members. In the SLI families, affected family members were more likely to have both LI and RI than either impairment alone. In Study 2, 68% of the SLI probands also met the diagnostic classification for RI. The language and RI rates for the other family members, excluding probands, were 25% and 23% respectively, with a high degree of co-occurrence of LI and RI (46%) in affected individuals. Significant sex ratio differences were found across generations in the families of SLI probands. There were more male than female offspring in these families, and more males than females were found to have both LIs and RIs. Results demonstrate that when LIs occur within families of SLI probands, these impairments generally co-occur with RIs. Our data are also consistent with prior findings that males show impairments more often than females.

Acknowledgments
This research was funded by National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant 5 RO1 DC 01854-08 (Paula Tallal, Principle Investigator) and the March of Dimes Birth Defect Grant 12-FY94-0184 (Paula Tallal, Principal Investigator). We thank all the parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and children who volunteered their time to participate in this study. We express appreciation to all the speech-language pathologists who helped in recruiting families. Special thanks to the speech-language pathologists, research assistants, and psychologists (in particular Rebecca Reale) who helped with data collection and test scoring, as well as to Jason Nawyn for his help in preparing presentations of these data for professional conferences.
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