Screening tests reveal high risk among adjudicated adolescents of auditory processing and language disorders


Purpose: The study investigated the prevalence of risk factors for auditory processing and language disorders among adolescents residing at a local juvenile detention center. Method: A total of 782 adjudicated adolescents with normal hearing were screened with the Randomized Dichotic Digits Test (Strouse & Wilson, 1999) and the Dichotic Words Test (Moncrieff, 2015). A subset of 420 of those adolescents was also screened with the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF; Semel, Wiig, & Secord, 2003). Results: More than 70% of the adolescents produced weakness on at least 1 dichotic listening test. One third of those produced weakness across both dichotic listening tests, consistent with a binaural integration deficit pattern. Nearly 48% of the subgroup of adolescents produced CELF scores that fell below the criterion for age. Dichotic listening and language scores were more associated in participants with poor performance in both ears during dichotic tests, who also produced the lowest scores on the CELF. There was no main effect of race, but 17- and 18-year-old Black adolescents produced lower CELF scores than White adolescents of the same age. Conclusions: School-age children referred for disciplinary action may have undiagnosed deficits in auditory processing and/or language. Efforts to screen, diagnose, and remediate these deficits could lead to improvements in communication, learning, and language skills in this population.

Publication Title

Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research