Consensus on red flags and terminology of atypical speech and language development
Atypical speech and language development is one of the most common developmental problems in young children. However, consensus lacks on clinical signs and on diagnostic terminology. The aim of our study is to gain consensus on the clinical signs that identify speech and language problems in children from one to six years of age, and on the terminology regarding persistent speech and language problems.
We conducted a three-round Delphi study in the Netherlands with a national panel (n=24) of speech and language therapists and linguists. The panel members responded on web based questionnaires covering clinical signs and terminology. Consensus was defined as ≥70% of the experts agreeing on an issue. Between round two and three, we performed an extended round on terminology with experts (n=247) recruited via social media.
Round one revealed a list of 161 clinical signs, and 16 terms (prefixes, descriptors and nouns) to label persistent speech and language problems. In the second round we gained consensus on 34 signs identified as red flags, and on the prefix ‘developmental’ (70%), the descriptor ‘language’ (100%) and the noun ‘disorder’ (74%). The extended round revealed a preference for the prefix ‘primary’ (65%) to ‘specific’. The third round revealed consensus (74%) on the prefix ‘primary’.
Conclusion / take home message
The Delphi study resulted in consensus on 34 red flags across the linguistic domains, and in consensus on the diagnostic label ‘primary developmental language disorder’ referring to persistent speech and language problems.