Speech Comprehension and Emotional/Behavioral Problems in Children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI)

Ana Gregl, Marin Kirigin, Snježana Bilać, Radojka Sućeska Ligutić, Nenad Jakšić, Miro Jakovljević


This research aims to investigate differences in speech comprehension between children with specific language impairment (SLI) and their developmentally normal peers, and the relationship between speech comprehension and emotional/behavioral problems on Achenbach’s Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) and Caregiver Teacher’s Report Form (C-TRF) according to the DSM IV. The clinical sample comprised 97 preschool children with SLI, while the peer sample comprised 60 developmentally normal preschool children. Children with SLI had significant delays in speech comprehension and more emotional/behavioral problems than peers.  In children with SLI, speech comprehension significantly correlated with scores on Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Problems (CBCL and C-TRF), and Pervasive Developmental Problems scales (CBCL)(p<0,05). In the peer sample, speech comprehension significantly correlated with scores on Affective Problems and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Problems (C-TRF) scales. Regression analysis showed that 12,8% of variance in speech comprehension is saturated with 5 CBCL variables, of which Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity (β= - 0,281) and Pervasive Developmental Problems (β = - 0,280) are statistically significant (p<0.05). In the reduced regression model Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity explains 7,3% of the variance in speech comprehension, (β = -0,270, p < 0,01 ). It is possible that, to a certain degree, the same neurodevelopmental process lies in the background of problems with speech comprehension, problems with attention and hyperactivity, and pervasive developmental problems. This study confirms the importance of triage for behavioral problems and attention training in the rehabilitation of children with SLI and children with normal language development that exhibit ADHD symptoms.


specific language impairment, SLI, speech comprehension, emotional and behavioral problems, preschool children, CBCL, C-TRF

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