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23-06-2018 | Uitgave 2/2019

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 2/2019

Inattentiveness and Language Abilities in Preschoolers: A Latent Profile Analysis

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology > Uitgave 2/2019
Sherine R. Tambyraja, A. Rhoad-Drogalis, K. S. Khan, L. M. Justice, B. E. Sawyer


Growing evidence suggests that early symptoms of inattentiveness may affect the language development and academic success of young children. In the present study, we examined the extent to which profiles of inattentiveness and language could be discerned within a heterogeneous group of preschoolers attending early childhood special education programs (n = 461). Based on parent-reported observations of children’s symptoms of inattentiveness and direct assessments of children’s language skills (grammar, vocabulary, and narrative ability), three distinct profiles were identified. The three groups, representing levels of severity (at risk, almost average, above average), differed not only by their end of year performance, but also with respect to which their abilities changed over the course of the academic year. Children in the poorest performing profile had poorer mean scores in the spring of their preschool year on all measures, but exhibited patterns of gain that exceeded or equaled their peers in higher-performing groups, in the domains of vocabulary and grammar. Examination of subsequent kindergarten reading skills suggested that profile differences remained consistent. Findings underscore the associations between early symptoms of inattentiveness and language difficulties, and further indicate that these relations extend to the acquisition of early reading skills. Future research is needed to corroborate these findings with more robust measures of attention, and to understand the long-term associations between inattentiveness, language and literacy, and potential effects on these associations from early intervention.

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