Classification of Developmental Language Disorders: Theoretical Issues and Clinical Implications

By Ludo Verhoeven; Hans Van Balkom | Go to book overview

Developmental Language Disorders:
Classification, Assessment,
and Intervention
Ludo Verhoeven
Hans van Balkom

University of Nijmegen

Language development is characterized by a great deal of variation. For a substantial group of children, there is such a delay in the development of speech and language that we speak of developmental language disorders (DLDs). Exclusionary conditions are often used to identify this population for which a broad variety of labels has been used in the past, including developmental dysphasia/aphasia and more recently specific language impairment (SLI; see Leonard, 1987; Stark & Tallal, 1981). Children with SLIs are diagnosed as exhibiting a significant deficit in the production and/or comprehension of language that cannot be explained by general cognitive impairment, sensorimotor deficits, frank neurological disorder, psychiatric diagnosis, or a general lack of exposure to language (cf. Leonard, 1998). The prevalence of SLI in children varies between 5% and 10% of the population (see Law et al., 1998). The heterogeneity of the language profiles of the children is considerable. To successfully prevent and/or remediate DLDs in children, a better understanding of its underlying nature is mandatory. Within the framework of the International Classification of Impairment, Disabilities, and Handicaps (ICIDH), the assessment of DLDs does not yet involve indication criteria for differentiating requests for help within a certain type of intervention, but concerns primarily the decision of whether special care is needed and, if so, which type is most appropriate (cf. Rispens & Van Yperen, 1997). Its selective function relates to either the decision of whether special education is required or extra facilities in an integrated care setting. It should be noted that an observed impairment

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