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The aim of this study was to follow-up prospectively a cohort of preschool children originally recruited from successive referrals to speech and language therapy community clinics and to investigate their linguistic, literacy, and social outcomes at 7 to 10 years of age. Three hundred and fifty children aged 84 to 113 months (mean age 99.9mo [SD 5.4mo]) were singletons from monolingual backgrounds where there was concern about their speech and language development. Children who had severe learning difficulties, autism, oromotor deficits, dysfluency, or dysphonia were excluded. Altogether 196 (56%), 134 males and 62 females, were seen at follow-up. A control group of children who had never been referred for speech and language therapy, 57% of whom were males, was also recruited (n=94; mean age 104.4mo [SD 6.8mo]). All children were assessed on standardized measures of speech, language, and literacy. Teachers and parents completed questionnaires on educational and social outcomes. In total, 139 children in the cohort were within the normal range on standardized language assessments. About 30% of the original cohort of children continue to struggle with language, literacy, and social difficulties. The study demonstrates the long-term nature of language impairment and reinforces the need for awareness among professionals in child development and education of the ongoing needs of this population of children.

Original publication




Journal article


Developmental medicine and child neurology

Publication Date





489 - 494


Speech and Language Therapy Research Unit, Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, UK.


Humans, Language Disorders, Speech Disorders, Observer Variation, Language Therapy, Speech Therapy, Severity of Illness Index, Social Behavior, Parents, Age Factors, Faculty, Linguistics, Child, Educational Status, Female, Male