The discrepancy hypothesis in children with language disorders: Does it work?

Anne L. Keegstra*, Wendy J. Post, Siena M. Goorhuis-Brouwer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Analysis of the relationship between verbal and nonverbal development in children with language problems.

Methods: From 134 children enrolled in a multidisciplinary diagnostic procedure in a speech and hearing clinic and diagnosed as having a language disorder, the language comprehension score (LCQ) and the nonverbal IQ score (SON-IQ) were compared.

t-Tests were used to test whether the children's mean LCQ differs from their mean SON-IQ and to test whether the children with an inadequate LCQ differ from children with an adequate LCQ with respect to discrepancy. Plots inspired by Bland and Altman [18] display the measurement of mean value of verbal and nonverbal development against the discrepancy between these scores.

Results: All children had a language production problem (inadequate GDS). Out of the 57 children with an adequate language comprehension (LCQ > 80), 16 children (28%) show a discrepancy of 10 quotient points or more between their LCQ and SON-IQ. Out of the 77 children with an inadequate language comprehension (LCQ

There is a significant difference between the children with an adequate LCQ and an inadequate LCQ with respect to discrepancy with their SON-IQ (p = 0.013). Only in the group of children with an LCQ 80 the discrepancy is not significant (p = 0.084).

Conclusions: The discrepancy hypothesis, in our opinion, must be modified. There is not only verbal and nonverbal functioning but there is language production, language comprehension and nonverbal learning abilities. Between these three aspects discrepancies can be found.

In 43% of the children there is a discrepancy between language production and language comprehension. When children also show language comprehension problems, 58% of these children show a discrepancy with nonverbal functioning. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-187
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2010


  • Discrepancy hypothesis
  • Language development
  • Nonverbal cognitive development
  • Language disorder

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