Language skills of children with EBD: A literature review

Gregory J. Benner, J. Ron Nelson, Michael H. Epstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

165 Scopus citations


This article sytematically reviews the available research on the prevalence, strength, durability, and nature of language deficits in children formally identified with emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). After applying inclusionary and exclusionary criteria, we reviewed 26 studies. Approximately three out of four children (71%) formally identified with EBD experienced clinically significant language deficits and approximately one out of two (57%) children with diagnosed language deficits also were identified with EBD. These deficits appeared to be broad-based in that they included pragmatic, receptive, and expressive language deficits. The results from longitudinal studies suggested that the rate of comorbidity between language deficits and EBD tends to either be stable or to increase over time. In addition, prevalence rates varied across studies, depending on the placement of children sampled, the stringency of the criteria for determining language deficit, and the number of language measures used. The findings and future research needs are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)43-59
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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