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Language Impairments Can Be Hard To Overcome

Update Date: Nov 01, 2013 06:26 PM EDT

Children who experience language difficulties may continue to develop emotional and behavioral problems in adulthood according to a new study.

"Young people who suffer from language impairments are not easy to notice," lead researcher Gina Conti-Ramsden, Professor of Child Language and Learning at The University of Manchester, said in a news release. "They have many skills and are in fact bright, it's just that the one thing they are not good at is language."

According to UM, "Specific language impairment (SLI) is a common disorder affecting five to seven per cent of the population."

Children with SLI have a hard time learning to talk even though they have perfect hearing and show no signs of neurobiological problems. 

"Unfortunately for them everything you need to do in life involves language," said Conti- Ramsden. "To function in today's fast paced society, to maintain relationships, educate yourself and get a job you need language pretty much every second of every day."

For the study researchers gathered children with a language impairment and documented their daily relationship with language difficulties starting from the age of 7 and then followed by age 8, 11, 16, 17 and 23. 

"Our evidence shows that young adults who have difficulties in understanding what is said to them, particularly in rapid conversation, report that they often feel anxious or depressed, or they tend to get angry easily," said Conti-Ramsden.

Researchers also found that some of the people who had language impairment as a child still found it hard to understand speech as an adult. As a result children had difficulty expressing what they wanted in daily life events which led to feelings of frustration.  

"To my knowledge little specific help is available for young adults with SLI," said Conti-Ramsden. "Because of their normal non-verbal intelligence, they do not fit into adult learning disability services, and because of the lack of information on the extent of their social functioning, they are likely to fall short of social services or mental health provision." 

The research, led by Professor Gina Conti-Ramsden, from The University of Manchester, will be presented at an event as part of the annual Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) Festival of Social Science.

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