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Specific Language Impairment (Overview)

This entry provides an overview of specific language impairment (SLI), which is a developmental disorder of communication that is present from birth. It will present an outline of prevalence, characteristics, theories relating to cause, intervention and development, associated outcomes, and a brief mention of SLI's relation to other similar disorders.

SLI is characterized by persistent language learning difficulties and slow development of language that do not have any other obvious causes. Having SLI is not the same as a having a lisp, or a stutter, which are articulatory problems. Instead, children with SLI have fundamental difficulties storing, retrieving, and using parts of language (including sounds, words, sentences, and tenses) in an effective way. They usually face challenges in producing language but may also struggle to understand ...

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