Children With Specific Language Impairment and Resolved Late Talkers: Working Memory Profiles at 5 Years Academic Article uri icon


  • PURPOSE: The evidence of a deficit in working memory in specific language impairment (SLI) is of sufficient magnitude to suggest a primary role in developmental language disorder. However, little research has investigated memory in late talkers who recover from their early delay. Drawing on a longitudinal, community sample, this study compared the memory profiles of 3 groups of 5-year-olds: children with SLI who had been identified as late talkers, resolved late talkers (RLTs), and children with typical language development (TLD). METHOD: Participants were 25 children with SLI, 45 RLTs, and 32 children with TLD. Subtests from the Working Memory Test Battery for Children and the Children's Memory Scale plus recalling sentences and nonword repetition tasks were administered to test the components of Baddeley's working memory model. RESULTS: The SLI group showed significantly poorer performance than the RLT and TLD groups on measures of the phonological loop and episodic buffer. The RLT and TLD groups scored similarly on all memory measures. CONCLUSIONS: The results support previous findings that sentence recall and nonword repetition are markers of SLI. Although residual effects of late-talking status may emerge over time, RLTs do not necessarily show memory deficits at 5 years of age despite delayed early vocabulary development.

publication date

  • December 2012