Parent and self-ratings of executive function in adolescents with specific language impairment
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BACKGROUND: There is accumulating evidence that adolescents with specific language impairment (SLI) have impairments in domains beyond formal language that may affect academic and social outcomes. The findings of previous studies as well as parent reports of behavioural concerns suggest that they lag behind peers in functions such as self-regulation of verbal behaviour and strategic language use suggesting that executive function may be a potential domain worthy of study in adolescents with SLI. The evaluation of executive functions in daily living could provide critical information for intervention for adolescents with SLI, and also inform studies of the relationship between language and executive functioning in a developing system. AIMS: To compare ratings of executive function in adolescents with specific language impairment to those of their parents and typically developing peers. METHODS & PROCEDURES: This study examined parent and self-ratings of executive function in adolescents with SLI and typically developing peers. Twenty-one adolescents with SLI and 21 age- and gender-matched peers (age range = 11-18 years) rated their executive functions in daily living using the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function - Self-Report Form (BRIEF-SR), and their parents provided companion ratings. OUTCOMES & RESULTS: Adolescents in both groups rated themselves more positively than did their parents, and the presence of language impairment was associated with more negative ratings by both parents and adolescents. Fifty-seven per cent of the parents of adolescents with SLI rated their child's executive function abilities as being in the clinically impaired range, compared with 10% in the typically developing group. CONCLUSIONS & IMPLICATIONS: The results of this study suggest that many adolescents with SLI have perceived impairments in executive functions that affect their performance in daily living. What remains to be determined is whether language and executive function impairments are co-morbid conditions or causally linked. Few assessment tools address the unique characteristics of adolescent clinical populations, including those with SLI. These findings suggest that self- and parent ratings of executive function may offer useful information for treatment planning. A greater understanding of the relation of executive functions to language has important implications for the timing and content of therapeutic intervention.
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