A Systematic Literature Review Examining the Academic and Social Adult Outcomes of Specific Language Impairment (SLI)
(2017) A Systematic Literature Review Examining the Academic and Social Adult Outcomes of Specific Language Impairment (SLI), no. 114.
Background: Specific Language Impairment (SLI) is a developmental language disorder that impedes a child's ability to learn, understand and produce language with no obvious cause. It has a profound impact on childhood and there is emerging evidence to suggest that this deficit can prolong into adulthood and lead to poor outcomes. Individuals with SLI are at risk of lower educational attainment, difficulty obtaining and maintaining employment, poorer friendships, reduced levels of independence and emotional and behavioural problems. Aim: This systematic literature review provides a summary of the academic and social adult outcomes of SLI. Protective factors that shield against poor outcomes are also considered. This literature review is useful in informing current and future policy in relation to intervention with this client group. Method: Twenty-one longitudinal studies were located and reviewed. Key terms were selected and three databases were searched separately. A data extraction form was used to collate all the data from the original articles and study quality was assessed. One study was a case study and the remaining twenty studies were cohort studies. Results: Individuals with SLI are at risk of poor academic and social outcomes in early adulthood in comparison to typically developing peers. Those with SLI were entered into fewer statutory examinations and received fewer qualifications. Individuals with SLI reported poorer friendships and lower levels of independence. Outcomes are heterogeneous- with some individuals displaying severely impaired functioning and others demonstrating subtle difficulties. Conclusions: The risks associated with SLI call for greater awareness of the disorder and research into older adult outcomes. Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) play a pivotal role in providing timely intervention and offering appropriate guidance and support. Further research is needed to confirm the evidence-base behind SLT involvement.