Children with Language Impairment: The Focus of Our Research

Approximately 7% of children have difficulty acquiring language even though there is no obvious cause. For example, they do not have a hearing impairment, an intellectual disability, neurological damage or disease, or autism spectrum disorder – all conditions which might interfere with language learning. Children without these accompanying problems are the children we are trying to learn more about in our research.

These children are described in various ways, but terms such as “language delay,” “specific language impairment,” “speech impairment,” and “language-learning disability” are often used to describe these children. (We use the term “Language Impairment” here for sake of consistency.) Here are some common characteristics:

  • Often, these children start talking later than other children.
  • When they do start to talk, they may talk less than other children.
  • They may be harder to understand due to speech problems, in addition to delayed language.
  • Once they begin to combine words, these “sentences” may contain grammatical errors. For example, these children may say things such as “Where him go?” “She singing pretty song,” or “Her like ice cream.”
  • The children might be receiving speech-language therapy at school and may have an IEP that uses terms such as one of those above (such as “language delay,” "language impairment," “speech impairment” etc.).
  • Even if children are not receiving speech therapy at school, parents may be concerned about their children’s slow language development.

Parents, speech-language pathologists/clinicians, and teachers who would like more information about our research and related services can email us at deevy@purdue.edu or call (765) 496-2253 or (800) 691-4700.

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