Early Detection of Developmental
Hanneke de Ridder
Heleen van der Stege
Dutch Foundation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Child (NSDSK)
About 5% of all young children encounter language delays relative to their peers (Reep, de Koning, de Ridder-Sluiter, van der Lem, & van der Maas, 1990; Law et al., 1998). Law's review of the literature on screening for speech and language delays shows such delays to pose serious problems for both the child and the social environment. Additional difficulties are sometimes involved such as hearing loss, cognitive delay, general health problems, and behavioral problems. In addition, early speech and language difficulties can slow not only the socioemotional development of children, but also their school success and emergent literacy in particular. A number of the reading and learning problems encountered in early school years are outlined by Beitchman et al. (1996a). The incidence of challenging or problem behavior is discussed by these and other authors (Baker & Cantwell, 1982; Beitchman et al., 1996b; Benasich, Curtiss, & Tallal, 1993; Goorhuis-Brouwer et al., chap. 6, this volume). Finally, Law (1998) reported some positive effects of therapy programs and tailormade intervention programs in particular, but also observed that the limited number of efficacy studies published to date does not warrant the introduction of national screening programs.
The focus of the present chapter is on the early detection of developmental language disorders. After a discussion on the problems in detecting children's language disorders at an early age, a report is given on the development and validation of a screening instrument for the early detection of language disorders of children in the Netherlands. The chapter