The impact of speech and language problems in kindergarten on academic learning and special education status in grade three
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PURPOSE: This study addressed the implications of experiencing early speech-language pathologies (SLPs) in kindergarten on special education needs (SEN) and academic outcomes in grade three. METHOD: Early Development Instrument (EDI) kindergarten data on development and the presence or absence of SLPs were matched with grade three school-system standardised tests of reading, writing and maths, and SEN classification in Ontario, Canada for 59 015 students. Children were classified as having a Persistent speech language pathology (SLP), Remittent SLP, Latent SEN or as a typically developing Control. RESULT: Even though 72.3% of children's SLPs remitted by grade three, kindergarten SLPs conveyed higher likelihood of having an SEN, and of lower achievement levels in grade three. The degree of impact varied between Persistent and Remittent groups. Children in the Latent group had lower scores in kindergarten on all five EDI domains than Control children. CONCLUSION: These population level results provide strong evidence to indicate that all children who present with an SLP in kindergarten face further academic challenges, even if their SLP resolves over time. Findings have implications for early intervention and treatment for children with early SLPs.
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