Specific Language Impairment (SLI) and Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) have been the subject of extensive research especially with respect to the connection between them. However, the manifestation of these disorders in adolescence has not been thoroughly investigated. The objective of the present study was to compare the intelligence scores and the reading, oral and written language skills of Greek adolescents with SLI and Greek adolescents with SLD, as assessed during their psycho-educational evaluation, in order to clear the path for diagnosis and intervention. 124 Greek adolescents diagnosed with Specific Learning Disabilities and 76 Greek adolescents diagnosed with Specific Language Impairment aged from 11 to 16 years took part in the study. All participants were assessed in reading, oral language and written language skills and took part in IQ testing. Independent samples t-test, chi-square test, odds ratios and their 95 percent confidence intervals were implemented to determine statistically significant differences. Analyses revealed differences in IQ scores and some differences in the skills assessed, thus indicating that SLI adolescents exhibited more difficulties across most of the basic academic skills, whereas SLD adolescents’ difficulties confined to the affected written language skills. Specifically, the observed difference was statistically significant for the total and verbal IQ score, and WISC-III scores also disclosed a significant difference for the similarities and information defisub- tests. Regarding reading skills, SLI adolescents were 4.9 times more likely to exhibit line skipping, 5.8 times more likely to exhibit hesitations, 3.2 times more likely to exhibit repetitions of syllables/words/ phrases, and 8.5 times more likely to exhibit non-acknowledgement of punctuation. Regarding reading comprehension, adolescents with SLI were more likely to have difficulty in retrieving simple information questions, making inferences, and giving titles. Adolescents with SLI were also more likely to have difficulties in story reproduction, giving synonyms/opposites, oral sentence reproduction and auditory oral word reproduction. In the area of written language skills, SLI adolescents were more likely to have poor handwriting, poor content, poor structure, and poor use of punctuation. In adolescence, Specific Language Impairment can be a different manifestation of an ongoing language disorder, which finally appears as a different type of Specific Learning Disability, but with a more generalized nature of learning difficulties. This finding should be interpreted in terms of the importance of differential diagnosis, especially during the challenging period of adolescence.
Key words: Specific learning disorder, specific language impairment, adolescence, diagnosis, educational assessment.
E. Bonti, E.M. Kouimtzi, Ch.Ε. Bampalou, Z. Kyritsis, I. Karageorgiou,M. Sofologi, M.-V. Karakasi, A. Theofilidis, A.A. Bozas (page 236)