A Longitudinal Study of Language and Speech in Children Who Were Internationally Adopted at Different Ages Purpose The author followed 56 internationally adopted children during the first 3 years after adoption to determine how and when they reached age-expected language proficiency in Standard American English. The influence of age of adoption was measured, along with the relationship between early and later language and speech outcomes. ... Research Article
Research Article  |   July 01, 2014
A Longitudinal Study of Language and Speech in Children Who Were Internationally Adopted at Different Ages
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Sharon Glennen
    Towson University, Towson, MD
  • Disclosure: The author has declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The author has declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Sharon Glennen: sglennen@towson.edu
  • Editor: Marilyn Nippold
    Editor: Marilyn Nippold×
  • Associate Editor: Linda Larrivee
    Associate Editor: Linda Larrivee×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / School-Based Settings / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / International & Global / Normal Language Processing / Language Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Research Articles
Research Article   |   July 01, 2014
A Longitudinal Study of Language and Speech in Children Who Were Internationally Adopted at Different Ages
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2014, Vol. 45, 185-203. doi:10.1044/2014_LSHSS-13-0035
History: Received April 22, 2013 , Revised January 17, 2014 , Accepted April 7, 2014
 
Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, July 2014, Vol. 45, 185-203. doi:10.1044/2014_LSHSS-13-0035
History: Received April 22, 2013; Revised January 17, 2014; Accepted April 7, 2014
Web of Science® Times Cited: 2

Purpose The author followed 56 internationally adopted children during the first 3 years after adoption to determine how and when they reached age-expected language proficiency in Standard American English. The influence of age of adoption was measured, along with the relationship between early and later language and speech outcomes.

Method Children adopted from Eastern Europe at ages 12 months to 4 years, 11 months, were assessed 5 times across 3 years. Norm-referenced measures of receptive and expressive language and articulation were compared over time. In addition, mean length of utterance (MLU) was measured.

Results Across all children, receptive language reached age-expected levels more quickly than expressive language. Children adopted at ages 1 and 2 “caught up” more quickly than children adopted at ages 3 and 4. Three years after adoption, there was no difference in test scores across age of adoption groups, and the percentage of children with language or speech delays matched population estimates. MLU was within the average range 3 years after adoption but significantly lower than other language test scores.

Conclusions Three years after adoption, age of adoption did not influence language or speech outcomes, and most children reached age-expected language levels. Expressive syntax as measured by MLU was an area of relative weakness.

Acknowledgments
This research was supported by two faculty development grants from Towson University. The Towson University Speech, Language and Hearing Center provided space and infrastructure for the assessments. The families of the 56 children who generously brought them back for multiple visits are thanked for their participation. Finally, the numerous graduate and undergraduate students who conducted assessments, transcribed language samples, and coded data are thanked for their assistance on this project.
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