Educational outcomes associated with Persistent Speech Disorder

Yvonne E Wren*, Emma Pagnamenta, TJ Peters, Alan M Emond, Kate Northstone, Sue Roulstone

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Children with persistent speech disorder (PSD) are at higher risk of difficulties with literacy, with some evidence suggesting an association with poorer educational attainment. However, studies to date have either used small clinical samples, which exclude children who have not been referred to clinical services, or relied on parent/teacher report of children’s speech development. There is a need for an inclusive study to investigate the impact of PSD on educational outcomes using a population-based sample and robust measures of speech development. Aim: Using a large prospective UK population-based study – the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) – this study investigated: 1) how children identified with PSD at age 8 perform on educational attainment tests at ages 10-11 and 13-14 in comparison to children without PSD; and 2) whether children identified with PSD at age 8 are more likely to receive a label of special educational needs (SEN) in secondary school. Methods & Procedures: We examined the data for 263 children with PSD and 6399 controls who had speech assessed at age 8 in a research clinic. Educational attainment was measured using data from English school standard attainment tests. Data on special educational needs categorisation were obtained between 11 and 13 years of age. Children with PSD and controls were compared using regression analyses adjusted for biological sex, maternal age, verbal, performance and full-scale IQ. Outcomes & Results: Children with PSD at age 8 were more likely to: achieve lower attainment scores at ages 10-11 in English and mathematics and across all three subjects of English, mathematics and science at ages 13-14 after controlling for biological sex and maternal education; score below target levels for English at both time points after controlling for verbal IQ, and at ages 13-14 after controlling for performance IQ; and receive a label of SEN (typically for the category of cognition and learning needs or communication and interaction needs) in secondary school. Conclusions & Implications: PSD identified at age 8 is associated with poor educational attainment at ages 10-11 and 13-14 in the core subjects of English, mathematics and science. Children with PSD at age 8 are more likely to be identified with SEN at ages 11-13, particularly cognition and learning needs and communication and interaction needs. We need to be aware of the potential for long-term impact of PSD on educational attainment in providing appropriate and effective support throughout school.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Language and Communication Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2021


  • Speech disorder
  • education
  • outcomes
  • children

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