Background: Language impairment is often associated with behaviour problems. However, detailed relations between different types of language impairment and specific behaviour problems in children have yet to be demonstrated. The present study attempted to do just this with an eye to the implications to identify foci for early intervention.
Methods: The language abilities of 71 five-year-old children with language impairment were assessed via the administration of an extensive battery of language tests. The children's behaviour profile was assessed via administration of the Child Behaviour Checklist.
Results: Factor analyses confirmed the presence of four language factors: speech, syntax, semantics and phonology. Forty percent of the children displayed serious significant behaviour problems. The most frequently occurring behaviour problems were: withdrawn behaviour, somatic complaints, thought problems and aggressive behaviour. Behaviour problems were associated with three of the four language factors but not strongly associated with speech problems.
Conclusions: Differential relations between specific types of language impairment and specific behaviour problems already exist at a young age. Phonological problems showed broad relations to problem behaviour; semantic language problems were especially related to internalizing behaviour problems. This finding suggests the need for specific therapies for both different types of language problems and different types of behaviour problems.