Specific developmental disorder of speech and language is part of a more general category of neurodevelopmental disorders, which is encountered in 7–10% of the childhood population. These children exhibit a significant impairment in speech and language development, which cannot be justified by hearing impairment, cognitive impairment, neuromuscular or orofacial disorders, as well as by emotional or environmental factors. Specific developmental disorders of speech and language are often comorbid with other neurodevelopmental disorders, such as motor coordination disorder and ADHD. These disorders are usually detected in early childhood and commonly treated during the preschool and school years. Despite this fact clinical and empirical evidence suggest that often these disorders persist beyond the school years, even though the symptomatology may be differentiated. In this literature review, we address the question of whether specific developmental language disorders are encountered only during childhood, and, if they persist, how they are manifested in adulthood. Finally, possible factors which may lead to these manifestations are analyzed. A considerable body of research has shown that even though the symptoms of children with specific developmental language disorders are resolved before the end of childhood, a significant part of this population continues to have persisting difficulties through adolescence and into adulthood. The continuity of this disorder may sometimes be directly linked to language disorder, as in the case of learning impairments or, on the other hand, symptoms may be related with those of conduct disorders, social adjustment disorder, emotional and psychiatric disorders in adolescence and adulthood. It therefore appears that specific developmental language disorder is often an early symptom of other disorders in the future. Even though the precise mechanisms which are responsible for these disorders are not yet known, it is possible that a fragile neurobiological substratum in these disorders may explain why early symptoms are usually manifested as language disorders and later develop into other disorders over time. However, these symptom changes may be linked to other parameters, such as the increasing social and emotional demands made on these individuals with increasing age, which may be a contributing environmental parameter to an already vulnerable system. Despite all of the limitations in the longterm study of these children, it is suggested that in some way, and not in all cases, pathology may continue into adulthood, although with a different symptomatology, which is linked to behavioural and social adjustment, as well as with more pervasive psychiatric disorders. In conclusion, it is suggested that a continuum of services may be necessary for these cases into adulthood.

Key words: Specific developmental disorder, speech/language, neurodevelopmental disorders, adulthood.

M. Vlassopoulos, D.C.Anagnostopoulos (page 74) - Full article (Greek)