Quality of life in children with developmental language disorder
AuthorEadie, P; Conway, L; Hallenstein, B; Mensah, F; McKean, C; Reilly, S
Source TitleInternational Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
AffiliationMelbourne Graduate School of Education
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsEadie, P., Conway, L., Hallenstein, B., Mensah, F., McKean, C. & Reilly, S. (2018). Quality of life in children with developmental language disorder. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF LANGUAGE & COMMUNICATION DISORDERS, 53 (4), pp.799-810. https://doi.org/10.1111/1460-6984.12385.
Access StatusOpen Access
BACKGROUND: Developmental language disorder (DLD) is common in children, but little is known about its association with quality of life (QoL) in middle childhood. QoL is a complex construct, aligning with an individual's sense of well-being and is related to functional limitations associated with DLD. Biopsychosocial models of disability account for both the extent and functional limitations of the impairment; however, the DLD literature rarely reports on both aspects. Studies are required that detail QoL in children with and without DLD. AIMS: To investigate the association between DLD, identified at 4 years and persisting at 7 years, and QoL over 4, 7 and 9 years; to compare QoL for children whose DLD was mild to moderate and severe at 7 years; and to investigate how variables known to impact on language development (e.g., maternal vocabulary), as well as social-emotional behaviours at 4 and 7 years contribute to QoL at 9 years. METHODS & PROCEDURES: The analyses included 872 children who participated in the 4-, 7- and 9-year data collection of the Early Language in Victoria Study (ELVS). We compared the parent-reported QoL profiles at 4, 7 and 9 years for children with and without DLD, and those with mild to moderate and severe DLD using the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL). We conducted regression analyses to estimate how child, family and environmental factors predicted QoL at 9 years, including social-emotional behaviours measured using the Strengths & Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) at 4 and 7 years. OUTCOME & RESULTS: Children with DLD (n = 70) had lower parent-reported QoL at 9 years than typically developing children (n = 802), with mean scores of 74.9 and 83.9 respectively. There was no evidence of differences in QoL between those with severe (n = 14) or mild to moderate (n = 56) DLD. In contrast to their peers, children with DLD had a profile of declining QoL between 4 and 9 years. For all children, language skills at 7 years predicted QoL at 9 years. For children with DLD, emotional symptoms and peer problems at 4 years plus SDQ Total Difficulties at 7 years were predictive of lower QoL at 9 years. CONCLUSIONS & IMPLICATIONS: Children with DLD had a lower QoL than their typical peers at 9 years and, contrary to previous studies, differences in QoL were not observed with DLD severity. Co-occurring social-emotional problems appear to play an important role in contributing to the lower QoL experienced by children with DLD. Consideration of associated functional limitations is required to support the communication and social development of all young children with DLD.
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