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Education and employment outcomes of young adults with a history of developmental language disorder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Gina Conti-Ramsden, Kevin Durkin, Umar Toseeb, Nicola Botting, Andrew Pickles

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-255
JournalInternational Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
Issue number2
Early online date15 Nov 2017
Accepted/In press17 Jul 2017
E-pub ahead of print15 Nov 2017


King's Authors


Background:Developmental language disorder (DLD) presents a considerable barrier for young adults to en-gage in further education and training. Early studies with young adults with DLD revealed poor educa-tional achievement and lack of opportunities to progress in education. More recent studies have providedmore positive findings. Relatively sparse data exist, however, on current cohorts and the factors that predictoutcomes.Aims:To examine educational and employment outcomes in young adulthood in a sample of people withhistories of DLD compared with an age-matched peer group without DLD. We ask: How do educationalpathways and early jobs compare between those with and without DLD? Are young adults with DLD receiv-ing similar levels of income as their peers? To what extent are language and literacy abilities associated withoutcomes?Methods & Procedures:Participants included 84 individuals with DLD (67% males) and 88 age-matched peerswithout DLD (56% males). Participants were on average 24 years of age. They completed a battery of psycholin-guistic, literacy and nonverbal skills assessments. Data were also collected on educational qualifications, currenteducational status, extent of educational support received, employment status, history and support, as well ascurrent income.Outcomes & Results:Those with DLD obtained lower academic and vocational qualifications. Higher educa-tional/vocational qualifications were associated with better language, better reading and higher performance IQ(PIQ). There were few differences between the two groups in terms of engagement with education, but the meanage at leaving education was significantly earlier in the participants with DLD. Substantially more participantswith DLD reported receiving support or dispensation from their educational institution. There was no significantdifference between groups in the proportion of young people currently employed, though a higher proportionof the age-matched peers was in work full time. Participants with DLD were much more likely to be in non-professional occupations. However, when examining pay in relation to types of occupation, the groups’ incomeswere broadly comparable.Conclusions & Implications:At the group level, young people with a history of DLD more commonly have lessskilled employment and more rarely achieve professional roles. At the individual level there is considerable variationwith smaller but not trivial proportions of young adults with a history of DLD showing good educational andemployment outcomes. There are positive aspects to early adult outcomes for some young people with a historyof DLD

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