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Under identification of speech and language impairment in children attending a special school for children with emotional and behavioural disorders

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Helen StringerORCiD



The link between language impairment (LI) and behaviour difficulties in children and adolescents is well established. There are reported incidence rates for LI of up to 50% in children attending psychiatric clinics, rising to 70% for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, the depth and breadth of research knowledge is not reflected in clinical practice either in Health nor Education. As many as one third of children referred for psychiatric intervention will have unsuspected LI, with consequent under referral to speech and language therapy services. This will have an obvious and adverse effect on the child’s ability to access available services. The study reported here examined the level of staff awareness of LI in a special school for children with emotional and behaviour difficulties (EBD). Results showed that the prevalence of LI in the school was 74%, while less than half of these children had been identified by teachers or health professionals. If this school is typical of others, levels of identification of LI in children with behaviour difficulties, including ADHD appear to remain low. Raising awareness of LI by education and training is suggested as the most appropriate way to address this issue as would benefit the whole population of the school, not just children with particular psychiatric diagnoses.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Stringer H, Lozano S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Educational and Child Psychology

Year: 2007

Volume: 24

Issue: 4

Pages: 9-19

Date deposited: 08/05/2014

ISSN (print): 0267-1611

Publisher: The British Psychological Society