Language disorders in young children: when is speech therapy recommended?

SM Goorhuis-Brouwer*, WA Knijff

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Analysis of treatment recommendation given by speech therapists. Evaluation of the language abilities in the examined children and re-examination of those abilities after 12 months. Materials and methods: Thirty-four children, aged between 2.0 and 5.3 years, referred to speech therapists by their General Practitioners because of possible language problems were included in a prospective study. The number of children receiving speech therapy and the number of speech therapy sessions received during 1 year, and the therapy effect on three quantitative language measures were compiled. Results: In 97% of the children referred to a speech therapist, speech therapy was recommended. Most of these children showed average to above-average language scores on standardised tests for sentence development (61%) and Language comprehension (79%). In addition, for most children spontaneous speech, as screened by the Groningen Diagnostic Speech Norms, was age-adequate (76%). The children's problems consisted of pronunciation difficulties or periods of stammering. After 12 months for 50% of these children speech therapy was still continued which means that the articulation problems still were present. The mean number of speech therapy sessions was 26.7. The language scores on the three language tests remained relatively stable over the 12-month interval. Conclusions: In young children pronunciation difficulties often lead to the recommendation for speech therapy. For a Large number of children therapy takes more than a year, indicating that speech therapy cannot influence these problems to a great extent. In addition language scores remained relatively stable. Therefore, Language problems and especially articulation problems in young children should! be reconsidered regarding maturation and normal variations in speech motor development. A 'watchful waiting' approach should be taken more often. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-529
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May-2003


  • language disorders
  • speech therapy
  • efficacy
  • articulation development
  • progress in language development
  • AGE

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