Article/Report  |   October 1997
Look Who's Talking
 
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Article Information
Language Disorders / Language
Article/Report   |   October 1997
Look Who's Talking
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1997, Vol. 40, 990-1001. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4005.990
History: Received May 6, 1996 , Accepted February 24, 1997
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, October 1997, Vol. 40, 990-1001. doi:10.1044/jslhr.4005.990
History: Received May 6, 1996; Accepted February 24, 1997

Language impairments have been hypothesized to have a genetic component. Previous studies of the familial aggregation of language impairments have relied on a retrospective approach based on parental/self-reported history of language development. This study examined familial aggregation prospectively, by investigating language acquisition and cognitive development in the younger siblings and offspring of individuals with well-defined language impairments. It was predicted that children with a positive family history for language impairments would be more likely to show delays in language acquisition than would age- and gender-matched controls. Similar delays were not expected in nonlinguistic domains, such as conceptual, gestural, or general cognitive development. Ten children with a positive family history and 10 age- and gender-matched controls were tested. Analyses of linguistic and cognitive assessments at 16 to 26 months confirmed the predictions. Children with a family history of language impairments had lower receptive and expressive language scores than controls, with 50% of them scoring at least 1.5 SD below the mean for their age. At the same time, performance on a number of tasks that did not rely on language abilities did not differ as a function of family history. These results indicate that children with a positive family history for language impairments are at risk for language delay; the results also support a familial component to language impairments.

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