Continuity From Prelinguistic Communication to Later Language Ability: A Follow-Up Study From Infancy to Early School Age Purpose This longitudinal study examined the development of prelinguistic skills and the continuity of communication and language from the prelinguistic stage to school age. Method Prelinguistic communication of 427 Finnish children was followed repeatedly from 6 to 18 months of age (n = 203–322 at ages 6, 9, ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 01, 2016
Continuity From Prelinguistic Communication to Later Language Ability: A Follow-Up Study From Infancy to Early School Age
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Sira Määttä
    Niilo Mäki Institute, Jyväskylä, Finland
    Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Marja-Leena Laakso
    Department of Education, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Timo Ahonen
    Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Asko Tolvanen
    Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Jari Westerholm
    Niilo Mäki Institute, Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Tuija Aro
    Niilo Mäki Institute, Jyväskylä, Finland
    Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, Finland
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Sira Määttä: sira.maatta@nmi.fi
  • Editor: Rhea Paul
    Editor: Rhea Paul×
  • Associate Editor: Luigi Girolametto
    Associate Editor: Luigi Girolametto×
Article Information
Development / School-Based Settings / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Language / Research Articles
Research Article   |   December 01, 2016
Continuity From Prelinguistic Communication to Later Language Ability: A Follow-Up Study From Infancy to Early School Age
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2016, Vol. 59, 1357-1372. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0209
History: Received June 9, 2015 , Revised December 6, 2015 , Accepted April 11, 2016
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2016, Vol. 59, 1357-1372. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-L-15-0209
History: Received June 9, 2015; Revised December 6, 2015; Accepted April 11, 2016
Web of Science® Times Cited: 1

Purpose This longitudinal study examined the development of prelinguistic skills and the continuity of communication and language from the prelinguistic stage to school age.

Method Prelinguistic communication of 427 Finnish children was followed repeatedly from 6 to 18 months of age (n = 203–322 at ages 6, 9, 12, 15, and 18 months), and its associations with language ability at ages 2;0 (n = 104), 3;0 (n = 112), 4;7 (n = 253), 5;3 (n = 102), and 7;9 (n = 236) were examined using latent growth curve modeling.

Results Prelinguistic development across several skills emerged as a rather stable intraindividual characteristic during the first 2 years of life. Continuity from prelinguistic development to later language ability was indicated. The common level and growth of prelinguistic skills were significant predictors of language ability between ages 2;0 (years;months) and 7;9; the percentage explained varied between 10.5% and 53.3%. A slow pace of development across multiple skills, in particular, led to weaker language skills.

Conclusions The results support (a) the idea of a developmental continuum from prelinguistic to linguistic ability and (b) the dimensional view of language ability by indicating that individual variations in early communication skills show consistency that extends beyond the toddler years. Our results also advocate developmental surveillance of early communication by emphasizing the significance of growth in predicting language development.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported in part by a grant from the Finnish National Doctoral Programme of Psychology.
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