Risk and Protective Factors Associated With Speech and Language Impairment in a Nationally Representative Sample of 4- to 5-Year-Old Children

Harrison, Linda J.; McLeod, Sharynne
April 2010
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Apr2010, Vol. 53 Issue 2, p508
Academic Journal
Purpose: To determine risk and protective factors for speech and language impairment in early childhood. Method: Data are presented for a nationally representative sample of 4,983 children participating in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (described in McLeod & Harrison, 2009). Thirty-one child, parent, family, and community factors previously reported as being predictors of speech and language impairment were tested as predictors of (a) parent-rated expressive speech/language concern and (b) receptive language concern, (c) use of speech-language pathology services, and (d) low receptive vocabulary. Results: Bivariate logistic regression analyses confirmed 29 of the identified factors. However, when tested concurrently with other predictors in multivariate analyses, only 19 remained significant: 9 for 2-4 outcomes and 10 for 1 outcome. Consistent risk factors were being male, having ongoing hearing problems, and having a more reactive temperament. Protective factors were having a more persistent and sociable temperament and higher levels of maternal well-being. Results differed by outcome for having an older sibling, parents speaking a language other than English, and parental support for children's learning at home. Conclusion: Identification of children requiring speech and language assessment requires consideration of the context of family life as well as biological and psychosocial factors intrinsic to the child.


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