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Translational research on early language development: Current challenges and future directions



There is a pressing need for the early and accurate identification of young children at risk for language and other developmental disabilities and the provision of timely, age-appropriate intervention, as mandated by Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Research has shown that early intervention is effective for many language impaired children in different etiological groups, and can reduce the functional impact of persistent disorders on children and their families. Yet, the accurate identification of infants and toddlers at risk for language impairment remains elusive, especially for late-talking children without obvious genetic or neurological conditions. In this paper, the need for translational research on basic processes in early language development in typical and atypical populations and the contextual factors that affect them are discussed, along with current challenges and future directions for its successful implementation. Implications of this research for clinical evidence-based practice are also considered.Partial support during the writing of this paper was provided by NIH Grant RO1HD044068. I am grateful to Dante Cicchetti for his thoughtful feedback on a prior version of this paper.


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Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Marjorie Beeghly, Child Development Unit, Children's Hospital, 1295 Boylston Street, Suite 320, Boston, MA 02215; E-mail:


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Translational research on early language development: Current challenges and future directions



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