Language Development and Symbolic Play in Children With and Without Familial Risk for Dyslexia

Lyytinen, Paula; Poikkeus, Anna-Maija; Laakso, Marja-Leena; Eklund, Kenneth; Lyytinen, Heikki
August 2001
Journal of Speech, Language & Hearing Research;Aug2001, Vol. 44 Issue 4, p873
Academic Journal
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.


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