SLI, the common abbreviation of Specific Language Impairment, is usually defined as a language impairment of unknown etiology in the presence of normal cognition.  In layman’s terms, these are kids with a language problem and no one knows why.  Some (IMO) interesting tidbits are:

  • SLI occurs in about 7% of the general population (Tomblin et al, 1997)
  • It is more prevalent in males than in females (Flax et al, 2003)
  • It is widely acknowledged that individuals with SLI commonly experience learning difficulties of a comparable magnitude across all domains, including mathematics (Arvedson, 2002; Donlan and Gourlay, 1999; Fazio, 1996)
  • ”  “… and literacy (Bishop and Adams, 1990; Catts, Fey, Tomblin, and Zhang; Flax et al 2003)

SLI seems to be a term more prevalant in the speech pathology community than elsewhere.  Because I like to interject my opinion occasionally, I’ll do that here, at the end of this post.  There are many possible causes of SLI, including environmental, motivational, and perhaps, genetic.