Stability of core language skill from infancy to adolescence in typical and atypical development

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Science Advances  21 Nov 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 11, eaat7422
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aat7422


Command of language is a fundamental life skill, a cornerstone of cognitive and socioemotional development, and a necessary ingredient for successful functioning in society. We used 15-year prospective longitudinal data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children to evaluate two types of stability of core language skill in 5036 typically developing and 1056 atypically developing (preterm, dyslexic, autistic, and hearing impaired) children in a multiage, multidomain, multimeasure, multireporter framework. A single core language skill was extracted from multiple measures at multiple ages, and this skill proved stable from infancy to adolescence in all groups, even accounting for child nonverbal intelligence and sociability and maternal age and education. Language skill is a highly conserved and robust individual-differences characteristic. Lagging language skills, a risk factor in child development, would profitably be addressed early in life.

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