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Camilla Crawshaw - TU Dortmund University

Camilla's poster 

A Longitudinal Consideration of Late Talkers’ Development of Language, Metaphor, Theory of Mind, and Reading Skills

Authors: Camilla Crawshaw1, Carina Lüke2, Ute Ritterfeld1

1TU Dortmund University, Germany; 2 Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg, Germany

Corresponding Author:


Prior work (Rescorla, 2009) has found that ‘late talkers’ continue to demonstrate masked differences and lower language and reading outcomes in comparison to their typically developing (TD) peers even into young adulthood. Delays in gesture production have also been found to predict developmental language disorder (DLD; cf. Sansavini et al., 2021) and children with DLD demonstrate difficulties with Theory of Mind (ToM) tasks (Nilsson & de Lopez, 2016) and metaphor comprehension (Bühler et al., 2018). Our study considers: In which language-related areas do late talkers still fall behind their TD peers at the age 9;0? A longitudinal sample (N=35) of monolingual German children began at age 1;0 and consists of: TD children (n=27), and children identified as late talkers at age 2;0 (n=8) of which two met criteria for DLD between ages 3;0-6;0. At 9;0 we investigated children’s language using three standardised measures of vocabulary, productive and receptive grammar, a standardised measure of reading, as well as their metalinguistic (metaphor comprehension; a selection of pretested items originally by Vogt and Indefrey (2017)) and metacognitive skills (pretested German translations of: Peterson et al.’s (2012) Extended ToM Scale; and Happé’s (1994) Strange Stories) and conducted group comparisons. In line with Rescorla (2009) our results indicate that late talkers can catch up with their TD peers in some areas of language skills (productive grammar) but that differences still remain across other measures of language and metalinguistic skills (vocabulary, receptive grammar, metaphor comprehension) as well as complex ToM (Strange Stories).


Bühler, D., Perovic, A., & Pouscoulous, N. (2018). Comprehension of novel metaphor in young children with Developmental Language Disorder. Autism & Developmental Language Impairments, 3, 1–11.

Happé, F. (1994). An advanced test of theory of mind: Understanding of story characters' thoughts and feelings by able autistic, mentally handicapped, and normal children and adults. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 24(2), 129–154.

Nilsson, K. K., & de Lopez, K. J. (2016). Theory of mind in children with specific language impairment: A systematic review and meta‐analysis. Child Development, 87(1), 143–153.

Peterson, C. C., Wellman, H. M., & Slaughter, V. (2012). The mind behind the message: Advancing theory‐of‐mind scales for typically developing children, and those with deafness, autism, or Asperger syndrome. Child Development, 83(2), 469–485.

Rescorla, L. (2009). Age 17 language and reading outcomes in late-talking toddlers: Support for a dimensional perspective on language delay. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 52, 16–30.

Sansavini, A., Favilla, M. E., Guasti, M. T., Marini, A., Millepiedi, S., Di Martino, M. V., ... & Lorusso, M. L. (2021). Developmental Language Disorder: Early Predictors, Age for the Diagnosis, and Diagnostic Tools. A Scoping Review. Brain Sciences, 11(5), 654–691.

Vogt, S., & Indefrey, P. (2017). Metaphernerwerb: eine empirische Studie bei Kindern im Alter von sechs bis vierzehn Jahren. [Metaphor acquisition: an empirical study with children aged six to fourteen years.], 27/2017, 69–106.