A Systematic Literature Review of the Long-term Outcomes of Children with Speech and Language Impairments
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(2016) A Systematic Literature Review of the Long-term Outcomes of Children with Speech and Language Impairments, no. 88.
Background: It is widely accepted that childhood speech and language impairments can have negative long-term implications for the quality of life of these individuals in adulthood. The current literature base has explored areas such as long-term language/literacy, education, employment, social and mental health outcomes. The present study aims to examine the specific effects of early speech and language difficulties and to determine the extent to which this impacts upon affected individuals as they transition through young adulthood. It will also consider the differing outcomes for those with speech impairment relative to those with language impairment. Method: Three databases were systematically searched using specific search terminology to access articles relevant to the research topic. Articles retrieved went through a process of screening to remove material that was not deemed suitable for the present study. Ultimately, 14 longitudinal studies were selected for review and detailed discussion. Results: Overall, the long-term prospects for those with a history of speech-only impairment are positive, with outcomes being broadly similar to individuals with no history of speech and language difficulties. On the other hand, those with history of language impairment appear to be negatively affected to differing degrees in a range of domains. For example, results showed a general trend towards poorer mental health status, fewer close relationships and difficulty in maintaining consistent employment. Conclusion: Definitive conclusions cannot readily be drawn, owing in part to the heterogeneous nature of populations with speech and/or language impairments. However, results are indicative of the need for timely input from SLT and education services during childhood, as well as ongoing support during (and in the years after) the transition from post-compulsory education. Speech impairments are consistently seen to have fewer long-term negative consequences than language impairments.