, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 187-201

Behavioral correlates of developmental expressive language disorder

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The association of behavior problems with preschool language disorders has been documented extensively. However, researchers have typically failed to differentiate subgroups of language-impaired children, to use observational data in documenting the behavior disorders, or to study children at the youngest ages. Using a multimodal assessment, this study examined parent-child interaction and behavior problems in a clearly defined subgroup of language-impaired children, those with developmental expressive language disorder (ELD). These children exhibit a delay in expressive language compared with receptive language and nonverbal cognitive skills. Subjects were identified and studied at the youngest age at which the disorder can be assessed. A group of ELD children, averaging 27 months of age, was contrasted with a group of normally developing children, matched for age, sex, and receptive language ability. Groups were compared on observed parent-child interactions as well as maternal responses on the Parenting Stress Index, the Eyberg Child Behavior Inventory, and a behavior-related structured interview. ELD children, when compared with normally developing children, exhibited higher levels of negative behavior and were perceived as different by their parents.

Portions of these data were presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Baltimore, April 1987, and at the annual meeting of the Society for Pediatrie Research, Anaheim, California, April 1987. This work has been supported by NIMH grant no. 1 R03 MH41603 to author Fischel, and by NICHD grant no. 1 ROI HD19245 to authors Whitehurst and Fischel. It has also been supported by grants of equipment from Commodore Business Machines, Inc., Koala Corporation, and NEC Telephones. We thank the Department of Pediatrics at the Nassau County Medical Center for the use of their facilities.