Research findings

ELVS investigators look at various parts of childhood communication development. Here are some key findings you have shared with us so far.


By four years of age, the incidence of stuttering onset over time was 11.2% in the ELVS group. This is much higher than reported previously. Only 6.3% of children had recovered from stuttering in the first 12 months after onset of stuttering. This is lower than previous reports of recovery rates. Recovery rates were higher for boys, those who did not repeat whole words at onset of stuttering, and for children who had reduced severity when stuttering began. Children who stuttered had stronger language skills at four years and better health-related quality of life than the non-stuttering group. Early onset of stuttering was not associated with language delay, social and environmental factors, or shyness/withdrawal before stuttering started. The ELVS data showed that the negative affects people tend to associate with stuttering, were not the norm in the ELVS group in the first year after stuttering onset.
Health professionals can reassure parents that onset of stuttering is not unusual up to four years of age and seems to be associated with rapid growth in language development.

Language and memory

At age five we looked at the language and memory of some of the children who were saying few words at age two. The most important findings from this study were:

Late starters can catch up, with language skills at age five similar to those of children who produced more words at age two.
Those late starters who continued to have difficulties with language at age five were likely to have memory skills that were less advanced.


A number of children have been diagnosed with autism during the study. Twenty children were identified by four years, and almost 50 by the age of seven. Many of the later diagnosed cases have Asperger Syndrome. We are interested particularly in early signs of autism that differentiate children with autism spectrum disorder from children with other delays and disabilities.

The early development of children with autism was compared to that of other ELVS children. We found that children with autism produced less communicative gestures at two years of age than children with developmental delay, or language impairment or typically developing children. The study continues to look for further early markers as the children grow older and it is hoped the results of the study will lead to earlier detection of autism in the future.

School readiness

ELVS has looked at what factors help predict a child's readiness to start school at five-six years of age that might be identifiable before school entry.  The most helpful characteristics in being ready for good progress at school were:

  • Level of language expression
  • Level of language understanding
  • Pre-literacy skills including knowledge of letters and their sounds.


McKean C, Mensah FK, Eadie P, Bavin EL, Bretherton L, Cini C, Reilly S. (2015) Levers for language growth: characteristics and predictors of language trajectories between 4 and 7 years. PLoS One, 10(8): e0134251. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0134251

Serry T, Castles A, Mensah F, Pezic A, Bavin EL, Eadie P, Prior M, Bretherton L, Reilly S. (accepted, 05.05.15) Developing a comprehensive model of risk and protective factors that can predict spelling at age seven: Findings from a community sample of Victorian children. Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties.

Swain N, Eadie P, Prior M, Reilly, S. (2015) Assessing Early Communication Skills at 12 Months: A Retrospective Study of Autism Spectrum Disorder. International Journal of Speech Language Pathology [Epub ahead of print] doi: 10.1111/1460-6984.12150

Watts A, Eadie P, Block S, Reilly S. (2015) Language ability of children with and without a history of stuttering: a longitudinal study. International Journal of Speech Language Pathology, 17(1):86-95.

Eadie P, Morgan A, Ukoumunne OC, Eecen Trofari K, Wake M, Reilly S. (2014). Speech disorders at 4 years: Prevalence, co-morbidities, and predictors in a community cohort of children. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology. Dev Med Child Neurol. 7(6):578-84.

Bretherton L, Prior R, Bavin E, Cini E, Eadie P, Reilly S. (2014). Developing relationships between language and behaviour in preschool children from the Early Language in Victoria Study: implications for intervention. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 19 (1), 7-27.

Eadie P, Nguyen C, Carlin J, Bavin E, Bretherton L, Reilly S. (2014). Stability of Language Performance at 4 & 5 Years: Measurement and Participant Variability. Int J of Speech Language Pathology, 49(2), 215-227.

Skeat J, Wake M, Ukoumunne OC, Eadie P, Bretherton L, Reilly S. (2014). Who gets help for pre-school communication problems? Data from a prospective community study. Child: Care, Health and Development, 40(2), 215-22.

Castles A, McLean GM, Bavin E, Bretherton L, Carlin J, Prior M, Ukoumunne O, Wake M, Reilly S. (2013). Computer use and letter knowledge in pre-school children: a population-based study. Journal of Paediatric Child Health, 49(3):193-8.

Kefalianos E, Onslow M, Block S, Menzies R, Reilly S. (2012). Early Stuttering, Temperament and Anxiety: Two Hypotheses. Journal of Fluency Disorders, 37(3), 151-63. doi: 10.1016/j.jfludis.2012.03.002

Veness C, Prior M, Bavin E, Eadie P, Cini E, Reilly S. (2012). Early indicators of autism spectrum disorders at 12 and 24 months of age: A prospective, longitudinal comparative study. Autism, 16(2),163-77.

Petruccelli N, Bavin EL, Bretherton L. (2012). Children with Specific Language Impairment and resolved late talkers: working memory profiles at 5 years. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 55(6), 1690-1703.

Ukoumunne O, Wake M, Carlin J, Bavin E, Lum J, Skeat J, Williams J, Conway L, Cini E, Reilly S. (2012). Profiles of language development in pre-school children: Longitudinal latent class analysis of data from the Early Language in Victoria Study. Child: Care, Health and Development, 38(3), 341-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2011.01234.

Prior M, Bavin E, Ong B. (2011). Predictors of school readiness in five-to six-year-old children from an Australian longitudinal community sample. Educational Psychology, 31(1), 3-16.

Prior M, Bavin E, Cini E, Reilly S, Eadie P. (2011). Relationships between language impairment, temperament, behavioural adjustment and maternal factors, in a community sample of preschool children. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 46(4), 489-94.

Nicholls R, Eadie P, Reilly S. (2011). Monolingual versus multilingual acquisition of English morphology: What can we expect by age three? International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 46(4), 449-63.

Skeat, J., Gold, L., Reilly, S., Wake, M., Ukoumunne, O. (2011). Letter to the Editor: The costs of preschool communication problems: Population study. The Medical Journal of Australia, 195(6), 322-23.

Reilly S, Wake M, Ukoumunne OC, Bavin E, Prior M, Cini E, Conway L, Eadie P, Bretherton L. (2010). Predicting language outcomes at 4 Years: Longitudinal Findings From the Early Language in Victoria Study. Pediatrics, 126(6), e1530-7.

Skeat J, Eadie P, Ukoumunne O, Reilly S. (2010). Predictors of parents seeking help or advice about children's communication development in the early years. Child: Care, Health & Development, 36(6), 878-87.

Eadie P, Ukoumunne O, Reilly S, Skeat J, Prior M, Bavin E. (2010). Assessing early communication behaviours: Structure and validity of the Communication and Symbolic Behaviour Scales-Developmental Profile in 12 month Infants. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 45(5), 572-85.