Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders


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Published in EDUCATION AND TREATMENT OF CHILDREN Vol. 32, No. 4, 2009. Copyright 2009 West Virginia University Press.


The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of four types of language disorders among public school students (N = 152) classified as Emotional Disturbance (ED). We also examined the association of the types of language disorders experienced by these students with specific learning disabilities and clinical levels of specific types of psychopathology. Nearly 66% of the students with ED experienced a language disorder, with combined receptive-expressive disorders being the most common (35.5%). Students with a language disorder, particularly combined receptive-expressive disorder, showed significantly poorer achievement and more learning disabilities (LD) in all areas compared to students with no language disorder. Furthermore, 91.3% of the students with any LD also had a language disorder. Types of language disorders were not significantly distinguished by psychopathology, although severity was serious in both students with and without a language disorder. These findings have implications for the identification and treatment of language disorders in students classified ED.