Examining the Predictors of Response to Treatment for Children with Primary Language Delays
Hampton, Lauren Hazledine
Young children with expressive language delays present with a variety of risk factors related to their delayed language acquisition including later use of gestures, genetic factors, and environmental variables (Hawa & Spanoudis, 2014). Recent intervention studies have demonstrated short-term improvements in spoken language in children with primary language delays. Yet, not all children in the intervention groups showed improvements relative children in the control group and often some children in the control group also showed improvements. Determining the child characteristics that are associated with growth in language by children with language delays is an important step in advancing optimal early language intervention. The current study was a secondary analysis of data from a randomized control trial of Enhanced Milieu Teaching for toddlers with receptive and expressive language delays (Roberts & Kaiser, 2015). Five theoretically important covariates were examined as predictors and moderators of treatment outcomes . Growth variables 1-month into intervention were analyzed as indicators of early response to treatment. No moderated treatment effects were identified, howeve, receptive language and speech sound diversity prior to intervention were predictors of growth in number of different words for all children. Additionally, joint attention abilities were associated with language development over time for children who do not receive intervention. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.